Arjie is a young Tamil boy unsure of his identity in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. When racial riots break out in 1983 with the burning and killing of Tamils and their property, Arjie’s life is in danger.
Although this was Selvadrai’s debut novel, its tale has stayed with me more than any other of his more recent novels. To me it’s still his finest work.
When Theo returns to Sri Lanka from London to write his novel he is distracted by Nulani who draws him out of his beach side home. After Mrs Mendis reminds him of earlier racial riots when her husband was drenched in petrol and set alight, Theo cannot shut out the rising racial tension outside his door, nor his love for Nulani.
Can their love survive when Theo’s Sinhalese ethnic group is rioting against Nulani’s Tamil minority?
A 2018 Canada reads contester was inspired by the over five hundred people who arrived on Canada’s west coast from Sri Lanka.
We learn of Mahindan’s life in Lanka where he was a mechanic at the mercy of both the Lankan government and the Tigers; in Canada, Grace, a hard line adjudicator has a tough stance on those who don’t arrive through the proper channels; and Priya, a lawyer dragged into working with the refugees when she wants to specialize in corporate law.
What will happen to the refugees who are turned back? How will the Canadian officials’ characters change after working with the Tamils for months? This is absolutely the best read on the crisis in Lanka (that still continues today for anyone not Buddhist) and what Tamils have had to endure to stay alive.