A three-generational novel of a Sri Lankan family's search for coherence and continuity in a country broken by colonial occupation and driven by ethnic wars. Saha looks for that coherence in a return to traditional values, Rajan in a quest for modernity that takes him to the mother country, and Vijay in a fight for socialism that ends in terror. But through the travail of their lives emerges the possibility of another future. Winner of the Sagittarius Prize. Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. ""Movingly details how three generations of idealists try to find meaning and purpose as their country, Sri Lanka, becomes another killing field.""-Kirkus Reviews. ""The author evokes a compelling and very human story of a lost country. It is a vision as beautifully told as it is unrelenting in its devotion to truth.""-Booklist.
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A. Sivanandan is the founder and editor of Race & Class and the director of the Institute of Race Relations in London. He is the author of Communities of Resistance, A Different Hunger, and Where the Dance Is.From Kirkus Reviews:
First published in Britain, a novel that movingly details how three generations of idealists try to find meaning and purpose as their country, Sri Lanka, becomes another killing field. The author, born in Sri Lanka, infuses the story with palpable feeling for his country and its plight. Once a place of shared values and tolerance, the tropical island is now riven by sectarian violence as the Hindu guerrillas``Tamil Tigers''fight for independence from the majority, the Buddhist Sinhalese. Sivanandan carefully explores the causes of the civil war. Hes often less successful, though, with the characters, most of whom are Tamil. Many seem more like fleshed-out representations of ideas and historical forces than complex human beings. The narrative focuses on three men: Sahadevan, his son Rajan, and Rajan's stepson Vijay. Sahadevan, who was born in a northern Tamil village where drought and crop failure were endemic, leaves the countryside to get an education, and works for the post office in the last years of British colonial rule. He and his friends are socialists who dream of a fair and just society. Son Rajan, born in 1930, an idealist like his father, becomes a schoolteacher, but during his life, post-independence dreams wither as politicians enrich themselves and cynically foment divisions. When his wife Lali, a Sinhalese, is raped and killed by Sinhalese vigilantes who think shes a Tamil, he despairingly flees to Britain. And finally Vijay, who is lovingly reared by his old grandparents, joins the rebels as a student, teaches, marries unhappily, and, while trying to save his rapidly disintegrating country, gets caught in the cross-currents and dies near the old family home. At times the melodrama--too many people die on cue--undercuts what is essentially an anguished tale of dying dreams and hopes deferred. Instructive and deeply felt. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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