The Bamboo StalkA novel summary and review.
The Bamboo Stalk is a fictional novel written by the Kuwaiti Journalist and writer Saud El Sanussi. The novel revolves around the journey of the Jose, the protagonist and the first person narrator, to find his identity. He is the fruit of a Filipino mother, Josephine, and a Kuwaiti father, Rashid, who belongs to a wealthy aristocratic family in Kuwait. The novel tackles a taboo in the Kuwaiti society which is the conditions of foreign labor.
The novel takes place between Philippines and Kuwait exploring the two opposite cultures with great detailed description by the writer.
The novel is divided into five parts, each part contains an amount of pain and displacement:
The mother, Josephine, tells her story to her son and why did she have to leave her country to work in Kuwait as a household servant for an aristocratic family.
The father, Rashid, sends his wife and baby boy back to the Philippines because his family did not accept the marriage nor the boy. As the boy grew up in poverty, he always hoped he could go back to his father’s land where he could have a better dignified life among the rich family of his father.
Jose tries to find his religious identity in the mosques, churches, and Buddhist temples.
Jose travels to Kuwait trying to find his roots, but is shocked by the unacceptance of his family and the alienation he feels in the country.
Jose leaves everything behind and goes back to the Philippines with a small bottle that contains dust from his father’s grave.
The Bamboo Stalk was made into a TV series in 2016 aired on the Saudi channel MBC.