From the Bedside Book of Nightmares


70 pages
ISBN 0-86492-031-8




Donalee Moulton-Barrett was a writer and editor in Halifax.


Suniti Namjoshi is a mythmaker. She creates graceful, witty fables that are a welcome twist on the traditional fables and fairy tales we read as children. Namjoshi is a feminist, and that philosophy pervades all her poetry and prose.

Most of the fables and mini-stories in From The Bedside Book Of Nightmares are imaginative and entertaining as well as provocative. For example, these opening lines from an untitled prose piece: “And in her fortieth year she suddenly gave birth to her own mother. Oh it was immoral. It was frightening. It was probably sacrilegious. There are laws against that. But she cited precedent: Zeus’ headache, Pinocchio’s parentage, the Titan’s genitals, all sorts of unnatural and perplexing acts.” The poetry in the collection however, does not generally have the strength of the prose fables. Namjoshi loses her sense of humor and the lightness and ease of her prose work disappears. Take, for example, this short untitled poem: “I wonder what those others /— those lovers of men — do? /Whether, in fact, they hate more, or only as much.”

What’s missing is the originality that successfully sparked her fables and prose pieces. The poems are predictable and, after several pages, repetitive. However, Namjoshi’s clarity of language — and purpose — and her skillful use of metaphor and imagery are just as evident, and noteworthy, in her poetry as they are in her prose.


Namjoshi, Suniti, “From the Bedside Book of Nightmares,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,