- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition edition (22 April 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747558132
- ISBN-13: 978-0747558132
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,222,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Heaven's Edge Hardcover – 22 Apr 2002
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An oddly ethereal futuristic quality-- a touch of JG Ballard even--permeates Romesh Gunesekera's third novel, Heaven's Edge. The book's protagonist, Marc, is a "man in search of a father or perhaps in search of himself". He has travelled from London to the beautiful but deeply troubled island of his ancestors. His late grandfather Eldon, an Eastern sage-like figure whose "dodgy homilies" clutter the narrative like speed humps, left the isle more than 50 years before. A staunch pacifist, Eldon was shocked when his own son, Lee (Marc's father) returned to fight, and die, in a war there. On the island, Marc is enraptured by Uva, a beautiful local woman. Initially he believes he has, at last, found the exotic homeland conjured up by his grandfather's more colourful stories. In between bouts of sensuous love-making, Uva educates Marc about the harsher realities of island life--realities Marc becomes all too quickly aware of when he is hauled off by the authorities. Separated from Uva and unsure if she is alive or dead, he finds himself on the run with her flouncy transvestite friend Jaz and an alchemical metal worker, Kris. Interweaving their adventures with Marc's memories and reflections, Gunesekera creates a mood of impeding doom. (The gradual erosion of Marc's innocence is the constant and recurring theme.) The military regime, like the island itself, is never actually named. Fragments of peripheral information give hints but the setting is disquieting and dreamlike; enhancing the sense of omnipresent and universal evil. Once a firm admirer of his grandfather's moral stance Marc slowly comes to realise that "a world that you care so much for, that you believe in" has to be protected. Subtly and poetically written, this novel occasionally creaks under the weight of its ambitions. Some of the characters are perhaps too thinly drawn and the sequences unconvincing but Gunesekera's magical prose makes enchanting reading. --Travis Elborough
"A Landscape almost hallucinogenic in its abundance is matched by a lushness of language," -- Maya Jaggi, The Guardian, 11th May 2002See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel opens with Marc’s arrival at the island by boat, and Gunesekera quickly establishes the mood and the themes of freedom and repression, and past and present, as the boatman, upon his arrival, releases two flying fish, accidentally netted during the trip. The island is under military control, and the hotel where Marc stays strictly limits his movements.
In an intensely romantic scene, Marc escapes the stultifying restrictions one day and meets Uva, a young woman who is trying to repopulate the forest with native birds and animals, all of which have disappeared during the long war. When Marc is suddenly rendered unconscious and Uva disappears from his life, the mood changes instantly from romance to surreality, as Marc finds himself in captivity, enduring a regimented life more akin to science fiction than the heights of romance.Read more ›
Looking at the review above, I can see, couched in more diplomatic language than mine, the reasons why I'm finding this book such hard going. Characters are thin ciphers, dummies for Gunesekera's ventriloquist speeches about life, the world and everything. His poetic language is clunky and lapses into commonplace, clichéd phrases that I'd have expected an editor to prune out. The sexual allusions - notably the "commingled resin" that Uva sniffs - had me cringing. I dearly hope (and I'm only on page 127) that one of the military authorities carries out a mercy killing soon. Merciful for me, because I'm not sure how much more of Jaz's insultingly stereotypical camp interjections I can stand.
The reference to J G Ballard's writing makes sense. I had to suffer the decidedly misanthropic 'Myths of the Near Future' as part of another course unit - great conceits but utterly, utterly cold.
This is a stinker. More fool me for buying it because it had such a pretty cover and was so adorned with admiring reviews from reputable newspapers. But I'm determined to read to the end now - and perhaps I'll be back with a second, humbler and more appreciative review
Unfortunately I was HUGELY disappointed with this book. The storyline and characters are very weak and watered down. The book's journey is rather predictable and too simple in its structure. In certain places, I felt quite nauseous at the sex scenes and their narrative. I feel that the writer has cheekly drafted in the character of Eldon as a mouthpiece for his pacifist views. The only character to rescue the book was the rather camp Jaz.
It would be very unfair of me to critise the writer as this is the only piece of work I have currently read by him. However I may rashly assume that it is not one of his better works.
One to avoid, I'm afraid.
Romesh Gunesekera's charismatic philosophy might be disarmingly simple but it takes full account of the complexities of human nature, and as such his 'fiction' is entirely plausible.