Most of Molly and the Muslim Stick is set in England, and spans the first half of the twentieth century and a little beyond. The story focuses on Molly Harris (Anglo-Brit), a victim of sexual abuse who tries to heal herself of the physical and mental effects of her abuse. When Molly is finally settled into a teaching career in a working class town, and has found a way to bring order to her very disordered life, (about half-way through the novel) an illegal immigrant from Guyana shows up on her doorstep. She takes him in, gives him a bath, powders him, clothes him in a dress (with a belt to maintain his maleness), sticks a pipe in his mouth, places him on a sofa, and names him Om.
He remains in her home, never developing social skills to function outside of it--his most coherent way of communicating with Molly is by emitting scents (of fear, of anger, e.t.c.)--as part servant, part exotic exhibit for her friends and neighbors. Eventually, in the thick of the anti-communist, racist, xenophobic fervor of the 1950s, the man is deported. Molly discovers she can't live without him (they aren't romantically involved, but she feels a strong maternal-like attachment to him) and goes to Guyana in search of him.
Once the novel's setting shifts to Guyana, we get a view of Amerindian lifestyle from the outsider, Molly. Molly is shocked at the near nakedness of the people, but admires the bead necklaces of the women and the feathered headdresses of the men (can you imagine a more primitive exotic scene?...mmm?...OH YEAH, a certain expensive Amerindian village in the middle of Carifesta happenings, August 2008 comes to mind).
Like 21st century visitors to the Carifesta village (maybe), Molly (in the mid to late 1950s) is happy and relaxed in the serenity of the place where she can slow down and catch up with her life, and where she is treated like a special guest, fed and housed by the "natives." But eventually, she tires of it all and returns to England.
But before she leaves, Molly discovers that Om's presence at her door in England may have been a "dream happening" gone wrong, and his subsequent return home to Guyana was a result of him dreaming his way back home.
Which brings me to this...
The novel has some elements of surrealism--a talking stick, supernatural occurrences, and such, but that genre only serves to frustrate this reader. I find the use of elements of the surreal in the novel (absurdist in some definitions) only serves to exoticize and eroticize Amerindians in Guyana. But at least Dabydeen was responsible enough to place his novel in a 1950s Guyana. The person or persons responsible for creating and subjecting Amerindians to the spectacle that was that village during Carifesta 2008 should be... alright alright...I'll just think it for now. I promised folks I wouldn't cuss on this blog during this good Christmas season.
Conclusion: From the perspective of a person reading to see what the novel says about Guyana and Guyanese, and the Caribbean by natural extension, I found Molly and the Muslim Stick an equal combination of frustrating and appalling, and I hope it's the worst thing I'll ever read by Dabydeen.