This collection of nine short stories is my introduction to literature by a Sri Lankan author and about the island country south of India. In this collection, Gunesekera paints vivid pictures of life for Sri Lankans at home and abroad, namely those in London.
In "Batik", husband and wife, Tiru who's Tamil and Nalini who's Sinhalese, are living in London during the civil war between their respective ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. The strain of the horrific events happening thousands of miles away still have strong emotional affects on them individually and as a couple. This is probably my favorite story because there's a quiet intensity to the characters as Tiru becomes consumed by the news coverage of the civil unrest.
"Ullswater" has one of the best examples of Gunesekera's poetic descriptions: "In the evenings, in the afterglow of sunset, when parrots darted across the sky, her face would absorb light and slowly become luminous like the moon. She was a lovely girl in those days." Yet, it's a sad story of a man filled with regret over his brother's death.
"Carapace" features an unnamed woman who is in like with a beach cook, a man opposite the well to do one, now living in Australia, her mother has chosen for her. It, too, comes off as a story of regret.
Regret or loss seems to be what binds these stories together. I recommend it for whetting the appetite for more reads about Sri Lanka. My interest is definitely piqued.