Book review: The Good Little Ceylonese Girl by Ashok Ferrey

The Good Little Ceylonese Girl Ashok FerreyAshok Ferrey’s The Good Little Ceylonese Girl is a collection of short stories about Sri Lankans living in the country and abroad. This slim 193 page volume has 17 stories, all of them really quite short, presenting readers with little vignettes and fragments of his characters’ lives.

The poignant Dust is the story of Father Cruz and his fight with his parishioners, who want their donations used to beautify the church, whereas all he wants is to use the money to help the needy.

The toungue-in-check Maleeshya is a short account of how the editor of a high-flying society magazine arm twists those desperate for a mention in her magazine to conform to her vision of a marriage and even death.

Pig shows some of the similarities between Indian and Sri Lankan culture. It is the story of two childhood sweethearts Lalitha and Ruwan who grew up together but were married off to different people. They continued to meet clandestinely over the years. But when the time came for them to be able to get back together, Ruwan backed out because he realized, after 19 years of cheating on his wife, that Lalitha and he had changed:Continue reading

Book review: Mosquito by Roma Tearne

Book review: Mosquito by Roma TearneThe 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.