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Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab


A young man travels to Trinidad to reconnect with a transgender parent, uncovering the complex realities of love and family.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Long-listed for Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize

Short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award

“Readers who enjoy rich details of place will find Mootoo’s writing about her settings to be luxuriant; we are especially treated to abundant descriptions of Trinidad . . . [A] thoughtful exploration of place and identity.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Mootoo’s character-driven novel is rich in setting and slow in pace, inviting the reader to linger over its closely observed details.”

“Mootoo has produced a stunning meditation on story . . . [This novel] portrays the beautiful (yet often tense) bond between a parent and child, the complexities of immigration, the fluidity of gender, and provides a juxtaposition between two extreme climates, Toronto and Trinidad. It is a gorgeously written novel.”
National Post (Canada)

“Jonathan Lewis-Adey’s mother left when he was nine, but when he finds his estranged parent again, he is surprised to find that the person he knew as his mother has become a man named Sydney. Set in the Trinidad of her upbringing, Shani Mootoo’s vivid writing explores the pain and confusion Jonathan experiences as a result of Sydney’s choices.”
World Literature Today, included in the Nota Bene section

“A fascinating premise that gives voice to the queer-identified . . . Mootoo’s brilliant evocations of [Trinidad’s] paradisiacal glow . . . are a real gift to the reader.”
Globe and Mail (Canada)

“In rich and vivid descriptive prose, Mootoo portrays her characters’ journeys between countries and toward greater selfhood.”
Quill & Quire, starred review

“The novel’s greatest triumph is its painfully poignant characterization of a privileged son, who cannot always embrace the transition that his mother—now father—has made.”
Asian American Literature Fans

“Queer Canadian visual artist and writer Shani Mootoo’s latest novel Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab follows the journey of writer Jonathan as he searches for the mother who left when his parents divorced.”
Baltimore Out Loud

“A powerfully moving tribute to the lasting power of storytelling and the surprising and unpredictable nature of human emotion. It’s truly an excellent literary feat and a great story to get lost in!”
Bookworm Shawn (blog)


Jonathan Lewis-Adey was nine when his parents separated, and his mother, Sid, vanished entirely from his life. It is not until he is a grown man that Jonathan finally reconnects with his beloved lost parent, only to find, to his shock and dismay, that the woman he knew as “Sid” in Toronto has become an elegant man named Sydney living in his native Trinidad. For nine years, Jonathan has paid regular visits to Sydney on his island retreat, trying with quiet desperation to rediscover the parent he adored inside this familiar stranger, and to overcome his lingering confusion and anger at the choices Sydney has made.

At the novel’s opening, Jonathan is summoned urgently to Trinidad, where Sydney, now aged and dying, seems at last to offer him the gift he longs for: a winding story that moves forward sideways as it reveals the truths of Sydney’s life. But when and where the story will end is up to Jonathan, and it is he who must decide what to do with Sydney’s haunting legacy of love, loss, and acceptance.

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab was included in BookRiot‘s list of 12 Excellent Small Press Books to Check Out in May!

Book Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Published: 5/2/17
  • IBSN: 9781617755347
  • e-IBSN: 9781617755545
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617755774


SHANI MOOTOO is a novelist, poet, and visual artist. Her novels include Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award; Valmiki’s Daughter, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; He Drown She in the Sea, long-listed for the Dublin Impac Award; and Cereus Blooms at Night, short-listed for several prizes including the Giller Prize, and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. She is also a recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. Her latest novel is Polar Vortex.

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