A Casual Brutality is a powerful, dark novel about the failure of a decent man to come to terms with the moral disintegration of the Caribbean island of his birth.
Casaquemada is a fragile West Indian republic divided by racial antagonism, lured into a spurious nationalism by impotent rulers, awash in a mindless consumerism fostered by easy money and a lust for an imported version of the good life. Raj Ramsingh is a Toronto doctor who returns to his native island only to leave it again, having paid a tragic price for his unwillingness to recognize the cruel imperatives of the men who will determine Casaquemada’s fate.
A Casual Brutality takes the reader into a world of terrifying dualities: illusion has become destruction; decency had become helplessness; nationhood has become tribalism; and a violent future looks only towards a brutal past. A novel as timely now as when it was first published in 1988.
“Mr. Bissoondath draws with complexity and precision … few first novels have the depth and reach of A Casual Brutality.” - The New York Times
“There is an extravagant talent evident in this work.” - Newsday
“This is a book that can make a difference in the way we perceive the modern world … A Casual Brutality heralds the arrival of a compassionate and humane new voice.” - Publishers Weekly
“An absorbing and very readable novel, written with intelligence, conviction and wit.” - London Weekend Telegram
“[Bissoondath] handles his theme and his characters with such dexterity and aplomb that it’s hard to remember this is a first novel … a powerful and troubling novel.” - The Globe and Mail
“Bissoondath is a superb tale-spinner: the novel is always engrossing, and towards the end… it builds force like the political thriller it partly is.” - Books in Canada
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