At first glance, it may seem as if Busjeet is simply revisiting familiar tropes of coming of age and immigrant assimilation. Certainly, Silent Winds doesn't shy away from typical polarities: young versus old; tradition versus modernity; freedom versus repression; community versus individual. Yet, through the archetypal Vishnu, Busjeet charts the entire evolution of Mauritian society, grounded in its historical context, with sharp wit, poetic charm, and graceful insights ... Busjeet excels in vivid, tactile experiences and unforgettable Mauritian characters ... Small flaws mar the narrative: On occasion, Busjeet slips into a formal or archaic language register. The opening arc with the secret family revelation doesn't develop into anything much. And some of the women, though not stereotypical, could have been given more dimensions. Nevertheless, as an intelligent, witty, and compassionate rendering of a full and rich world, it is a much-needed addition to the small body of contemporary Mauritian literature (see French-to-English translations from writers like Ananda Devi and Nathacha Appanah.)
As the plot spools out in a relatively staid order...things simply happen, and we move on. Through dialogue, we learn of the family’s ancestral fall from grace, offhand commentary about pigmentation and the anglicizing of names, and surprising admiration for local remnants of French and British colonizers. But neither dialogue nor narration gives way to the characters’ interiority ... For readers unfamiliar with Mauritius, this history is illuminating, the richness of detail showcasing some of the best writing in the book ... Read in our current moment, when American pursuit — glorification, even — of excess has resulted in one of the most pernicious societies in modern history, Vishnu’s heedless pining for the one percent feels, at best, problematic ... It’s satisfying to read such a vivid rendering of a world unfamiliar to many. For another, bearing witness to a migratory rise in status gives one a sense of optimism, even if the reality is much more complicated than the novel suggests. That may be enough for many readers, even as the deeper insights into humanity and its heterogeneity remain elusive.
Set primarily on the island nation of Mauritius, Busjeet’s inventive debut ping-pongs through time, combining poetic passages with linked tales to tell a story of family, politics, and yearning ... Busjeet consistently dazzles with Vishnu’s narration, conveying the character’s developing maturity, creativity—several poems by the narrator cover his early years—and deep feeling for people even tangentially in his orbit. This showcases a remarkable and confident writer.