Adult Fiction

A Casual Brutality

Neil Bissoondath

ISBN: 9781896951409
Format: Trade Paperback
5.43" x 8.46"

Publication Date: Mar 21, 2003

FIC019000 FICTION / Literary

Nominated, 1988 Smithbooks/ Books in Canada First Novel Award
Nominated, Guardian Fiction Prize

“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.”

“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.”

“[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


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.