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Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab by Shani…

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

by Shani Mootoo

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A young man finally reconnects with the woman who raised him. After his mother and her girlfriend, Sid, broke up, a nurturing and loving figure vanished from his life. After years of searching he finds Sid, now Sydney living in his native Trinidad. Since they last saw each other Sydney has transitioned to living as a male. Hormones and surgery have completely changed the way he once looked. Now the two seek to reconcile before it is too late.

It is a novel of forgiveness, loss, and rediscovery. A moving and lyrical tale about love that transcends time. ( )
  Juva | May 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Have you ever read something so poignant that it almost makes you angry? Angry that you can’t set words dancing melodically to a beautiful and evolving narrative the way this writer so effortlessly can? Surely, I’m not alone on this one . . . ? From the first paragraph of the first page of Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, I was entranced by the beauty of her prose. Her carefully constructed unraveling of detail and fluid changing of time and perspective, conveying the complexity of relationships, identity, and change, is beautifully precise.

Jonathan has spent years searching for the once completely devoted mother who walked out on him before he turned ten. A Canadian writer struggling with his own conflicting emotions and troubled past, Jonathan tracks down his elusive mother in Trinidad, the place of her birth, only she is no longer the mother he once knew as Sid, but is now a soft-featured, ailing gentleman, by the name of Sydney. Through Sydney and Jonathan’s interwoven narratives, we come to see a beautiful yet unforgiving Trinidad and a progressive yet cold Canada and how both countries have served to form both men’s sense of family and self.

Though a lovely and haunting feminist and LGBTQ rights manifesto, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab is no diatribe against men or even against those who would oppose same-sex marriages and transgender rights. It is so much more, namely a powerfully moving tribute to the lasting power of storytelling and the surprising and unpredictable nature of human emotion. It’s truly an excellent literary feat and a great story to get lost in!


*- I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Bookwormshawn | May 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this literary novel about a middle-aged man resolving his relationship with the trans man who, as a woman, raised him for ten years then disappeared from his life. The author writes beautiful descriptions of Toronto winters and Trinidadian landscapes and food. The title Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab describes the author's structure, moving obliquely through time with flashbacks, letters, and diaries unfolding the story of Sid/Sydney while jumping back and forth. I tend to prefer plot and action based stories, but Mootoo drew me in with her beautiful writing, compelling characters and an enduring mystery at the heart of the relationship between Sid/Sydney and his greatest love. For those who like literary novels add a star. ( )
  MarysGirl | May 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab was a story like no other I've read in the past. The author develops a very interesting story of a parent and child that rekindle their deep relationship even after many years of separation. This time apart is further complicated by the gender transition made by the parent. The author did a great job of telling a story that is very common in our day and age, but is rarely discussed as it relates to the emotional impact it has on those involved. It's a different and unique story and did a great job of describing the emotions and impact it has on the characters involved. ( )
  mgwallace6285 | Apr 28, 2017 |
MOVING FORWARD SIDEWAYS LIKE A CRAB by Shani Mootoo was sent to me by Akashic Books in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. This title was first published by Doubleday Canada in 2014 and is being reprinted in the US by Akashic Books in 2017.
This is a story about storytelling. How a story is understood by and shapes both the ‘teller’ and the ‘listener’.
It is a story of unfolding layers - layers and layers of culture, ethnicity, origins, immigrant experiences and expectations, friendship, city life - island life, cold climate - tropical climate, Toronto - Trinidad, family expectations and relationships, gender, physical appearance, childhood experiences, lesbian and bisexual relationships, and storytelling.
It is a very descriptive story - of language, place, local customs, city life, emotions. I was caught up on every page with descriptions - of snow, of the walk Sid makes to the clinic, the Hindu funeral rituals, Sid’s friendship with Zain. Mesmerizing.
The story begins with a prologue of sorts - From Sydney’s Notebook; Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab by Jonathan Lewis-Adey follows and is written in 3 parts with 12 chapters.
Jonathan is born to a very independent and successful author, India Lewis-Adey. She is in a relationship at the time with artist and Trinidadian immigrant, Siddhani Mahale. ‘Sid’ in effect raises the young child (Jonathan) which leaves India time to fully concentrate on her writing career. When their relationship cools several years later, India tells Sid to leave and Sid can’t bring herself to say good-bye to young Jonathan. This begins Jonathan’s very deep feelings of abandonment.
Many years later, Jonathan begins searching for Siddhani Mahale and is puzzled when he can only locate a Mr. Sydney Mahale in Trinidad.
Sydney is indeed Sid and has undergone sex reassignment surgery. Sydney is now a female to man transsexual. Jonathan visits Sydney in Trinidad off and on for many years trying to reconnect with this very important parent figure. Jonathan is also trying to understand Sid/Sydney’s abandonment of him and his new transsexual self.
Jonathan is always the ‘listener’ and when Sydney dies, Jonathan tries to understand Sydney through Sydney’s journals and letters as the ‘teller’.
There are many strong characters in this story - Siddhani/Sydney Mahale, India Lewis-Adey, Jonathan Lewis-Adey, Zain - best friend, confidante and inner voice of Sid and later Sydney, Sydney’s staff in Trinidad, the mysterious Eric, Anta - who helps organize Sydney’s Hindu funeral.
It is a very lyrical, poetic, emotional story - rich in its settings, emotions, gender and story-telling. I can’t stop thinking about this story and its participants. ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385676220, Hardcover)

From the author of Cereus Blooms at Night and Valmiki’s Daughter, both nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, comes a haunting and courageous new novel. Written in vibrant, supple prose that vividly conjures both the tropical landscape of Trinidad and the muted winter cityscape of Toronto, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab is a passionate eulogy to a beloved parent, and a nuanced, moving tale about the struggle to embrace the complex realities of love and family ties.
Jonathan Lewis-Adey was nine when his parents, who were raising him in a tree-lined Toronto neighbourhood, separated and his mother, Sid, vanished from his life. It was not until he was a grown man, and a promising writer with two books to his name, that Jonathan finally reconnected with his beloved parent—only to find, to his shock and dismay, that the woman he’d known as “Sid” had morphed into an elegant, courtly man named Sydney. In the decade following this discovery, Jonathan made regular pilgrimages from Toronto to visit Sydney, who now lived quietly in a well-appointed retreat in his native Trinidad. And on each visit, Jonathan struggled to overcome his confusion and anger at the choices Sydney had made, trying with increasing desperation to rediscover the parent he’d once adored inside this familiar stranger.
As the novel opens, Jonathan has been summoned urgently to Trinidad where Sydney, now aged and dying, seems at last to offer him the gift he longs for: a winding story that moves forward sideways as it slowly peels away the layers of Sydney’s life. But soon it becomes clear that when and where the story will end is up to Jonathan, and it is he who must decide what to do with Sydney’s haunting legacy of love, loss, and acceptance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:32 -0400)

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