Trinidadian writer Balkrishna Naipaul’s Dancing Moon under the Peepal Tree: A Novel Set in Trinidad at 50 will be launched in Trinidad on July 19, 2012, at the National Library in Port of Spain, Trinidad, as part of the island’s 50th Anniversary Independence celebrations. [For those readers who may be wondering, yes, he is related to V.S. Naipaul.] Gita Dubay contributed a review for The West Indian News; she writes:
The Peepal tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia – very far away from the West Indies, or the Caribbean. But on the very cover of the novel the reader is told the book is set in Trinidad that marks the island’s 50years of independence. Indeed, this is no ordinary tree; its origins go back to the Bhagavata Gita by the name of the Asvattha or Plaksha, which is the cousin of the Bo-Tree or Bodhi Tree, under which the Buddha attained nirvana or enlightenment. [. . .T]here are multiple layers of use of the Peepal tree in the book – to the extent that it becomes a recurring leitmotif. But perhaps, for me, there is one overriding reason for it: it is representative of one of the most insufferable paradigms of British Colonial history and, in a manner of speaking, the Peepal tree encapsulates for the reader a reminder of this as it relates to how the island has coped with this phenomenon in the fifty years of its independence.
This idea of post-colonial transference without “waiting on the world to change” creeps up very fast as one of the underlying themes of the book, contributing much to the mimetic theory of culture, both philosophically and behaviourally in terms of social psychology, which stems from Balkrishna Naipaul’s penetrating analysis of observation. Even so, he is not just concerned with mimicry or imitation; nor is he comfortable with René Girard’s idea that if people should stop mimicking or imitating other societies, all forms of culture would cease to exist. In this case Trinidad, is a hotbed of mimetic concerns; it makes its life from imitating everything, and mimicry creeps into every sphere of life, regardless of the wealth, education background or even the social standing in the community; it certainly cuts across race and caste barriers as it is certainly master in the consciousness of ethnicity.
Balkrishna Maharagh Naipaul was born in Montrose, Trinidad, and educated in England. An educator in Canada since 1968, he left teaching to serve as the permanent representative of Development Educators for World Peace at the United Nations.
Among his many achievments, in 2005 Mr. Balkrishna Naipaul was awarded the prestigious title of Saahitya Mani from the Shikshayatan Institute of America for his trilogy (Arc of The Horizon, Legends of The Emperor’s Ring, and The Yoga of Love) and his contributions to world literature. In 2006, he was selected by the World Business Forum to receive their most lucrative award for “his outstanding contributions to literature and successful achievement as a World Renowned Author of Books, and for his Invaluable Services to the Canadian/Caribbean community as one of the founding leaders.”
[A link to the full review is forthcoming.]
For purchasing information, see http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Dancing-Moon-Under-Peepal-Tree/book-zaVXuxI9yEe3xrxMxUYJXQ/page1.html and http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Moon-Under-Peepal-Tree/dp/1469145537
For more information on the author, see http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,76662.html and http://www.camanabaytimes.com/caribbean-novelist-balkrishna-naipaul-focuses-on-positive-human-values-unlike-cousin-sir-vidia-naipaul/