“Gilbert prided himself on being an unusually well-informed man. No doubt the sun did too. No doubt the sun knew why the clouds formed and why the wind blew and why the lizards basked in its warmth, and all this immense knowledge made the sun gay and bright, full of trust and affection for mankind. But there were shut-away worlds, full of mistrust and hate, and it was about this side that Makhaya was particularly well informed.” (p. 89)
“How to explain to the earth that it was more functional as a vegetable patch than a flower garden, just as factories were more functional than schools and boys were more functional as weapons than as humans.”
― Kamila Shamsie,
In all its optimism of the 90’s this story speaks in favour of hybridity and fluidity of identity. To not allow ourselves or others to put us in boxes of race, class or gender; to just be anything you want at any given moment and not be constrained or expect such things of others. But here, the characters only find this freedom in drugs and alcohol. The most intoxicated are the most liberated because they are too mentally disengaged from societal structures to participate in dogma or obligations.
I usually don’t like to read books that simply by their title suggest there will be tears but this text takes a well known subject and turns it into an original piece of literature. Based on the real story of Ivan Mishukov, the narrative follows little Romochka and his pack around Moscow as they learn to provide for their little family.
Note: when referencing the book i use the following text.
This is a short but powerful read. Toni Morrison, in her attempt to write outside the stereotypes of her race (as she explains in her essay ‘Home’ in ‘The House that Race Built’), she puts together a narrative that is both fictional and historical with a unique perspective on slavery. In just 176 pages she covers a wide scope that punches quite a kick.