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Monkfish Moon [Kindle Edition]

Romesh Gunesekera
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This vivid and haunting short-story collection flows smoothly together to create a masterful portrait of contemporary Sri Lanka; a country of teeming natural beauty, with a society in turmoil. A married couple, living in London, find their marriage strained by fighting in their far-off homeland. A man mourns his brother’s death. A woman regrets the lover she left behind. Between exile and loss, Gunesekera’s characters struggle for the elusive and divided place that they call home. Re-printed by Granta in a beautiful new edition.

Product Description

About the Author

ROMESH GUNESEKERA grew up in Sri Lanka and now lives in London. His debut novel Reef was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1994 and won the Yorkshire Post First Work Prize. In 1997 he was awarded the prestigious Premio Mondello award in Italy. He is also the author of two novels; Reef and The Sandglass, both of which are published by Granta Books.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 228 KB
  • Print Length: 148 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1847084184
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IO3NM0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #261,826 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka and lives in Britain. His first novel Reef was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize.
He is also the author of The Sandglass,(winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award) and Heaven's Edge which like his collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His fourth novel The Match, published in 2006 was hailed as one of the first novels in which cricket was amply celebrated and a "book that not only shows what fiction can do, it shows why fiction is written - and read." (Irish Times).
His fiction has been translated into many languages and he has run highly acclaimed writing workshops around the world. He has also been a judge for a number of prestigious literary prizes including the David Cohen British Literature Prize and the Caine Prize for African Writing and the 2013 Granta list of the Best of Young British Novelists.
Granta reissued his first three books in 2011 and the paperback of his latest novel, The Prisoner of Paradise, is out now published by Bloomsbury.
His novel is a BBC World Book Club choice and the programme is available on-line at
For more information see or

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
In this excellent collection of nine short stories, Romesh Gunesekera provides an insight into a world of nostalgia, regret and loss. All of the stories are either set in Sri Lanka, or about Sri Lankans effectively exiled abroad, and rather like the island's famous jewels, and perhaps, the island itself, this collection is small but perfectly formed. Gunesekera sets the scene in each story with a deftness of touch and an economy of style, and his characterisations are both plausible and moving. Above all, the stories are far more ambiguous and involving than they initially appear.
Let's take the example of 'Captives', a story about Mr Udaweera, the owner of a newly opened guest house near Sigiriya, and his first guests, an English couple called the Hornimans. Udaweera assumes the Hornimans are on their honeymoon, and goes out of his way to help them, eventually overstepping the thin line between hospitality and emotional involvement. Udaweera insists on escorting the couple on a trip to see the famous damsel frescoes at Sigiriya, and in the glow of the afternoon light, and surrounded by the erotic graffiti of the Mirror Wall, he finds himself impossibly drawn to Mrs Horniman. Unable to act upon his impulsive attraction towards her, Udaweera increasingly indulges in both solipsism and voyeurism. As the couple leave the guest house for the trip to Colombo and the flight home, never to return, he finds out that the 'Hornimans' are neither married nor on their honeymoon.
The themes of loss, of choices not taken, and of the inevitability of history, run through all nine of the stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By sally tarbox TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Collection of 9 short stories, mainly set in Sri Lanka and tinged with the issues of war. Not a lot happens in them; they are really a moment in time, but beautifully and movingly described.
I really liked 'Storm Petrel' where two friends meet up in Britain. One has just been back to Sri Lanka on holiday, and intends to return to start a guest-house. His dream wins the narrator over:

'The salt in the sea air lulled us almost to a sleep. Overhead the sea breeze echoed the roar of the surf as coconut trees brushed their heads together, whispering like giants planning our destiny. The sun was hot. CK was going over each step of his dream. But in just two months the whole island would be engulfed in flames...mined and strafed and bombed and pulverized, CK's beach...would be dug up, exploded and exhumed.'

Also enjoyed 'Carapace', where the narrator - a young girl with a care-free, happy relationship with a cook, is being inveigled into a suitable marriage with a well to do Sri Lankan in Australia with a 'real' job....

Having recently visited Sri Lanka, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the country. And the author's ability to portray the awkwardnesses and tensions between two people is excellent, notably between the master and servant in in 'A House in the Country'. Enjoyable read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book, as good as Reef 6 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The stories in Monkfish Moon are in some ways typical short stories - most of them have no definite ending. But they are really immersive to read and once you start you'll find the book hard to put down. Coming from Sri Lanka, the island the author bases most of the stories in, I think the book paints a pretty realistic and poignant picture of the country and it's people. The stories are sad, thought-provoking, sometimes even downright uplifting, but are always full of color and detail. True, some people may find the book a bit boring, but they just don't have any patience or appreciation for atmosphere. Read this book even if you have no knowledge of Sri Lanka, you'll probably enjoy it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very simple and engrossing!! Excellent! 2 April 2001
By Nicola - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
An excellent bit of writing!! Very descriptive of life in Sri Lanka! It takes you to the scene of the stories! It is very thought provoking, and grabbed my attention from the time I started reading it. I couldn't put it down till I was done. The stories are full very detailed, and yet very simple and comprehensible.It is as good as The Reef. I would recommend it for anyone.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply fabulous 11 Nov. 2004
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on
This is a haunting set of stories that sticks long after the last page is turned. Exemplifying this is the first of the lot, "A House in the Country," in which Ray's colonial comportment contrasts sharply with the religious violence around him.

Ray has grown very close to his housemate and helper, Siri, who sees himself more as a servant than an equal with Ray. But all divisions are swept aside when Ray sees "smoke rise in small puffs out of the heaps of ash" from the nearby store from which he has purchased daily newspapers for several years. "The veins in his arms were swollen. A store burns like so many others up and down the country. Only this one's closer to home." Mr. Ibrahim, the shopkeeper has been burnt alive in his store by the fanatical terrorists of Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers.

Some time later, we learn that back home in the country, the Tigers have "used a lamp-post for" Siri's brother. Ray knew that "the body would have been mutilated, then strung up as a beacon; the corpse would swing in the wind for days."

In the end, the entire set of stories, like the first one, tremble "like the skin of a drum." A fabulous book.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like several of its ilk.... 26 Feb. 2006
By KK - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well, I like the stories. Also having met the author in person, I know the work comes from deep within. My reason for 3 stars is that... if you're into a lot of Srilankan literature as I have been through... you would realise that the theme, content and the undercurrents are common to a lot of writers who were either exposed to the events, grew through this period abroad but were aware of it (as an NRSL - Non-resident Sri Lankan) or was witness to some of the events or aftermath first-hand perhaps as a tourist to the Island nation. Most of the fictional literature (irrespective of the narrative form and genre) of the 80s 90s of 20th century deal with the strife and war on the isles. Like Jean Arasanayagam's work for example. Somewhere I am forced to find some parallel in her work with another diasporic, albeit Indian, such as Bharati Mukherjee, because of the concerns. There is perhaps where Romesh Gunasekera differs. While the former two have more woman-based concerns, Mr. Gunasekera's work is pan-Sri Lankan. Of course, what is special here is his simplicity of language. Similar to Reef, his other work. Poetry in prose would be a cliche. If we go by sheer narrative simplicity and disarming beauty of language my rating would be 4 or more stars. I would recommend this work definitely.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Intro to Sri Lankan Literature 16 Jan. 2010
By Terri Lee-Johnson - Published on
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.
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