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For The Love Of My Name

Written by Jeremy Taylor for Caribbean Beat on no date provided

Lakshmi Persaud’s third novel is a much more ambitious affair than her first two, Butterfly in the Wind and Sastra. It asks the question: why and how do we allow tyranny to take root? As the despot entrenches himself - the violence, the sophistry, the vote-rigging, the power-games, the asset-stripping - why is he not unmasked by other governments, by the intellectual elite, by the churches, by ordinary thinking people? Why is it so easy for him to outsmart us, divide us, manipulate us, until it is too late and there is only ruin and desolation? These are questions which range far beyond the Caribbean, but they are dangerous and uncharted territory for the Caribbean novel (yes, and why is that?), especially when the case study is a barely disguised version of a Caribbean state which will be easily recognised by any Caribbean reader. (And it’s not Cuba, either; this is not post-Cold War polemic.) What’s more, Persaud suggests a large number of persuasive answers, which do no credit to anyone. The book is adventurous in its structure and its range of narrative voices; it’s a shame it did not get much tighter editing, which would have sharpened its effect further and made it less repetitive and word-heavy. For this is an important book: it asks us all to put aside cynical resignation about politics and politicians, and to engage much more firmly with anyone who thinks - as the President for Life does here - that ‘Power matters. Nothing else.’

This is a review of For The Love Of My Name

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