This debut novel tells the story of Yalini, a young woman who was born in the United States to parents who grew up in Sri Lanka. What makes her parents special is that they had a Love Marriage. They fell in love and decided to marry on their own. Their relationship was not Proper in that family did not make the arrangements for them. Because of this, there was heartache, albeit short-lived due to the distance, for both families. Yalini’s maternal uncle Kumaran went so far as to confront Yalini’s father’s family. When Kumaran comes to the Canada with terminal cancer, Yalini confronts the past not only of her family, but of Sri Lanka as well.
Before reading this novel, I knew very little about Sri Lanka. Learning about the history of this small nation was the most interesting part of this novel. Although I very much remember the terrible tsunami which hit there very recently, I was very interested in history that has taken place in Jaffna. I found the story relating to the Tamil Tigers very interesting and I plan to read more about them on my own.
Overall, I found the prose to be very self-conscious. I always felt the author’s presence and because of that, I never got lost in what could have been an engrossing story. I believe that this story would have flowed so beautifully if it were allowed free from Ganeshananthan’s tight control over style.
Despite the issues I had with the writing, this book is an example of what can make reading fiction so powerful – igniting a reader’s desire to learn about someone or something new. Encouraging personal growth is no small accomplishment. I would recommend this novel to anyone who might be interested in Sri Lanka, most specifically about the Tamil Tigers.
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