The Sri Lankan civil war serves as the backdrop for Roma Tearne’s debut novel Mosquito. It’s the story of Theo Samarajeeva, a Sri Lankan who returns home from England after his wife’s death despite the warnings of his friends to not return to the war torn island nation. It’s the story of Nulani Mendis, a young and gifted artist, who blossoms to life after she meets Theo. It’s the story of their improbable love. And it’s a story of torture.
Tearne writes beautifully about Sri Lanka, capturing it’s beauty and the brutality of the civil war. She writes poignantly about the pointlessness of war, about the brutality of torture and the psychological damage it wrecks on the tortured.
The writing is beautifully evocative, as Tearne gives a sensory, color drenched feel to the location and atmosphere of the Sri Lankan coast. I fell in love with the beauty of the country while reading the book – it’s beautiful coastline, verdant forests and rich history.
The characters of Theo and Nulani Mendis are well drawn out. Sugi, Theo’s caretaker and friend, though a rather central figure to the story, may not have a well-defined character, yet, he is someone you can understand and connect with. Tearne also gives a brief sketch of the psyche of a Tamil Tiger recruit, and given the wide-spread terrorism these days, that is enough to help you understand the character of Vikram, the young orphan boy who gets recruited into the LTTE.
This is a hauntingly beautiful novel of love, loss and hope; of the pointlessness of war; of the physical and psychological scars of torture; of the triumph of hope. Highly recommended.