Sunday, April 2, 2023

Funny Boy

Funny Boy is a novel written by Sri Lankan-Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai and published in 1994. The novel is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Sri Lanka's ethnic and political conflicts in the 1970s and 1980s.

The novel's main character is Arjie, a young boy growing up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, who is beginning to understand that he is gay. Arjie is a sensitive and creative child who is drawn to the world of theater and performance. As he begins to explore his own identity and desires, he becomes increasingly aware of the tensions and divisions that define his country's social and political landscape.

Through Arjie's eyes, we see the complex social and cultural dynamics of Sri Lanka, including the ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, and the growing political violence that is tearing the country apart. Selvadurai's writing is both poignant and incisive, and he captures the nuances and complexities of Sri Lankan society with great insight.

One of the novel's strengths is Selvadurai's ability to capture the experiences of young people growing up in a society riven by conflict. He captures the sense of uncertainty and fear that permeates everyday life, as well as the courage and resilience that young people demonstrate in the face of adversity. Arjie's journey is both universal and deeply personal, and Selvadurai's writing offers a powerful and nuanced exploration of identity, belonging, and self-discovery.

Funny Boy is a novel about the power of individuality and the importance of embracing one's own identity, even in the face of social and political pressure. Selvadurai's writing is both tender and powerful, and his novel is a moving testament to the enduring power of hope and compassion, even in the darkest of times.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Little Dust on the Eyes

A Little Dust on the Eyes is a novel by Sri Lankan author Minoli Salgado, published in 2019. The novel is set against the backdrop of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009, and explores the experiences of ordinary people caught up in the conflict.

A Little Dust on the Eyes

The novel's main character is Punchi, a young boy who is orphaned at a young age when his parents are killed in a bomb blast. He is taken in by his uncle and aunt, who live in a village in the war-torn Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The novel follows Punchi's life as he navigates the challenges of growing up in a society wracked by violence, poverty, and political turmoil.

Through Punchi's eyes, we see the impact of the war on the lives of ordinary people, as well as the complex web of social and political forces that underpin the conflict. Salgado's writing is both lyrical and evocative, and she captures the sights, sounds, and smells of Sri Lanka with great vividness.

One of the strengths of the novel is Salgado's nuanced and empathetic portrayal of the characters, who are all grappling with their own personal traumas and struggles. From Punchi's aunt, who is haunted by memories of her own losses, to a young Tamil girl who dreams of escape from the violence, Salgado's characters are complex, fully realized individuals who are struggling to find their place in a society torn apart by conflict.

At its heart, A Little Dust on the Eyes is a powerful and poignant exploration of the human toll of war. Salgado's prose is both eloquent and deeply affecting, and her novel offers a window into the experiences of ordinary people living in a society wracked by conflict. The novel is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and to the enduring power of hope and compassion, even in the darkest of times.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Island of a Thousand Mirrors

Island of a Thousand Mirrors is a novel. It was written by Sri Lankan-American author Nayomi Munaweera and published in 2012. The novel is a poignant and lyrical exploration of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which lasted from 1983 to 2009, and its impact on the lives of ordinary people.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors

The novel is told from the perspectives of two women, Yasodhara and Saraswathi, who come from opposite sides of the ethnic conflict that ravaged the island nation for more than a quarter-century. Yasodhara is a Sinhalese woman from the South, while Saraswathi is a Tamil woman from the North.

Yasodhara and Saraswathi's stories are intertwined, and the novel weaves back and forth between their perspectives, exploring the experiences of both sides of the conflict. Through their eyes, we see the horrors of war, the devastation it wreaks on families and communities, and the human toll it exacts.

One of the novel's strengths is its ability to capture the complex social and political landscape of Sri Lanka, where deep-rooted ethnic and religious tensions fueled the civil war. Munaweera's prose is both poetic and incisive, and she deftly navigates the fraught terrain of the conflict, without reducing it to a simplistic binary of good versus evil.

At the heart of the novel is the friendship that develops between Yasodhara and Saraswathi, which transcends the ethnic and religious divides that have torn their country apart. Their bond is a testament to the power of human connection and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors is a haunting and deeply affecting novel that offers a powerful and nuanced perspective on the Sri Lankan Civil War. Munaweera's lyrical prose and her empathetic portrayal of the characters make this a compelling and thought-provoking read. The novel is a testament to the enduring power of human connection, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Village in the Jungle

The Village in the Jungle is a novel written by British author Leonard Woolf and published in 1913. The novel is set in a small, impoverished village in colonial Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and follows the lives of the local Sinhalese people who struggle to survive in the face of poverty, disease, and exploitation by British colonial officials.

The Village in the Jungle

The novel's main character is a young Sinhalese boy named Silindu, who is born into a family of low-caste farmers. Silindu's life is characterized by hardship and misfortune, as he is forced to confront the brutal realities of life in the jungle, where food is scarce and disease is rampant. His father is an alcoholic and his mother dies when he is young, leaving him to be raised by his stepmother, who is cruel and abusive.

As Silindu grows older, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the village and its people, who he sees as weak and cowardly. He dreams of escaping to the city, where he believes he can make a better life for himself. However, his plans are derailed when he is forced into an arranged marriage with a young woman named Punchi Menika, who is also from a low-caste family.

Punchi Menika is a pivotal character in the novel, as she represents the suffering and oppression of women in colonial Ceylon. She is sold into marriage by her father, who is desperate for money, and is forced to live with Silindu, who is abusive and neglectful. She eventually runs away with a wealthy British official, who promises to take care of her, but ends up abandoning her when he tires of her.

The novel is a powerful critique of British colonialism and the impact it had on the lives of ordinary people in Ceylon. Woolf portrays the British officials as callous and indifferent to the suffering of the local people, while the Sinhalese people are depicted as hapless victims of colonial exploitation. The novel is also a commentary on the gender inequality that existed in colonial Ceylon, where women were treated as property and had little agency or autonomy.

The Village in the Jungle is a deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that offers a rare glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in colonial Ceylon. Woolf's vivid descriptions of the jungle and its inhabitants, as well as his poignant portrayal of Silindu and Punchi Menika's struggles, make for a compelling read that is both insightful and emotionally resonant.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Anil's Ghost

Anil's Ghost is a novel by Sri Lankan-Canadian author Michael Ondaatje, first published in 2000. The book is set in Sri Lanka during the civil war and tells the story of a forensic anthropologist named Anil Tissera, who returns to her homeland to investigate human rights abuses.

Anil's Ghost

Anil is a Sri Lankan-born woman who has been living in the United States and working as a forensic anthropologist. She is recruited by a human rights organization to investigate a series of murders and disappearances in her homeland. Anil teams up with a local archaeologist named Sarath Diyasena, who becomes her guide and ally in the investigation.

As Anil and Sarath delve deeper into the investigation, they uncover a web of corruption and violence that is linked to the civil war. They encounter a range of characters, from government officials to rebel fighters, and they must navigate the complex political landscape of Sri Lanka in order to uncover the truth.

The novel is notable for its evocative descriptions of Sri Lankan culture and history. Ondaatje brings to life the beauty of the country's landscape, as well as the rich and complex history of the island. He also explores the impact of colonialism on Sri Lankan society, and the ways in which the country's past has shaped its present.

"Anil's Ghost" is also a powerful meditation on the nature of memory and trauma. Anil is haunted by her own past, and her work as a forensic anthropologist forces her to confront the painful memories of her homeland. The novel also explores the idea of how the dead are remembered, and the ways in which memory and history are often contested.

Ondaatje's writing is lyrical and poetic, and he weaves together multiple narrative threads to create a complex and deeply layered story. He explores the complex relationships between the characters, and the ways in which their personal histories are intertwined with the larger political and social forces at play.

Anil's Ghost is a powerful and haunting novel that explores complex themes with nuance and sensitivity. It is a book that delves deep into the heart of Sri Lankan society and history, while also offering insights into the nature of memory, trauma, and justice. It is a book that is well worth reading for anyone interested in literature, culture, or social justice.

Monday, June 22, 2020


Chinaman is a novel by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, first published in 2010. The book is a work of fiction that centers around a retired Sri Lankan sports journalist named W.G. Karunasena, who is obsessed with finding the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer of all time.


W.G. Karunasena is a heavy drinker and a bit of a rogue, but he is also a passionate cricket fan who believes that Sri Lanka has produced a player who is worthy of being called the greatest of all time. He sets out on a quest to find this player, traveling across Sri Lanka and interviewing various cricketers, coaches, and fans.

As he goes on his quest, W.G. Karunasena becomes increasingly obsessed with the idea of finding the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer. He discovers the story of a mysterious bowler known as "Chinaman," who was an unknown player in his time but who W.G. believes may have been the greatest of all.

The novel is notable for its humor and irreverence, as well as its deep knowledge and love of cricket. Karunatilaka captures the unique spirit of Sri Lankan cricket and the passion that it inspires in its fans. He also explores the ways in which cricket has become entwined with Sri Lankan culture and identity.

The novel also deals with larger themes, such as the nature of obsession and the quest for excellence. W.G. Karunasena's search for the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer is a quest that takes on a larger significance, as he grapples with the idea of what it means to be the best and the lengths that one must go to in order to achieve greatness.

Karunatilaka's writing is sharp and witty, and he captures the colorful characters and settings of Sri Lanka with great skill. He also delves deep into the history and mythology of Sri Lankan cricket, weaving together a complex and engaging narrative.

Chinaman is a highly entertaining and engaging novel that offers a unique window into Sri Lankan culture and society. It is a book that will appeal to cricket fans and non-fans alike, and it is a testament to the power of sport to inspire passion, obsession, and excellence.