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Mosquito [Hardcover]

Roma Tearne
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Mar 2007

A lyrical and profoundly moving story of love, loss and civil war, set in Sri Lanka, London and Venice.

When author Theo Samarajeeva returns to his native Sri Lanka after his wife’s death, he hopes to escape his gnawing loss amidst the lush landscape of his increasingly war-torn country. But as he sinks into life in his beautiful, tortured land, he also finds himself slipping into friendship with an artistic young girl, Nulani, whose family is caught up in the growing turmoil – a friendship that gradually blossoms into love. Under the threat of civil war, their affair offers a glimmer of hope to a country on the brink of destruction…

But all too soon, the violence which has cast an ominous shadow over their love story explodes, tearing them apart. Betrayed, imprisoned and tortured, Theo is gradually stripped of everything he once held dear – his writing, his humanity and, eventually, his love. Broken by the belief her lover is dead, Nulani flees Sri Lanka for a cold and lonely life of exile. As the years pass and the country descends into a morass of violence and hatred, the tragedy of Theo and Nulani's failed love spreads like a poison among friends sickened by the face of civil war, and the lovers must struggle to recover some of what they have lost and to resurrect from the wreckage of their lives a fragile belief in the possibility of redemption.

Beautifully written, by turns heartbreaking and uplifting, `Mosquito’ is a first novel of remarkable and compelling power.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (5 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007233655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007233656
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 964,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roma Tearne arrived with her parents in Britain from Sri Lanka at the age of ten and trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford. For nearly twenty years her work as a painter, installation artist, filmmaker and novelist has dealt with traces of history and memory in public and private spaces.

Roma's first novel, 'Mosquito', was shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award. She is married with three children and lives in Oxford.

Product Description


‘“Mosquito” plays with sensuous mixes of human bestiality and natural beauty…It is in this continuing agency of remembered love – presented as the colours, sounds and smells of art, in dialogue with beauty and horror – that the uplifting politics of this fine novel lies.’ Independent

‘Heart-rending…Readers of this powerful novel cannot fail to be moved…but they will also realise that, as well as being a rebuke to indifference, the book is also about hope and survival.’ Christopher Ondaatje, Spectator

‘“Mosquito” lyrically captures a country drenched in both incomparable beauty and the stink of hatred.’ Guardian

‘Lovely, vividly described.’ The Times

‘Tearne brings her skills as a painter to her writing, creating some extraordinarily lovely portraits of Sri Lankan land and seascapes, a stunning backdrop to the changing horrors of the country’s 20-year civil war. Anyone who has visited, or has a passing interest in Sri Lanka, should read this beautiful novel.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘“Mosquito” is a complex, ambitious book from a writer with a real talent for language. We will be hearing a great deal about Ms. Tearne in the future.’ Lauren B. Davis, author of ‘The Stubborn Season’ and ‘The Radiant City’

‘“Mosquito” is a beautifully moving, suspense-filled story about unlikely lovers that’s gripping from start to finish. Set in Sri Lanka, it tells of a bittersweet romance between a young artist and a writer, a relationship that slowly becomes entangled in the mess of the local civil war. Tearne’s ethereal descriptions of the Sri Lankan coastline and the powerful accounts of a country ripped apart by violence make for an emotional and exceptional novel.’ Easy Living Magazine

‘Beautiful and evocative… The true horror and unreason of terrorism as depicted here speak to our own worst fears and remind us that terrorism has been with us in many guises and many places for a much longer time than we tend to remember…Gripping and original.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘There are some beautiful passages in “Mosquito”…These flashes of true beauty, along with an impressively sustained forward drive, are enough to make “Mosquito” an engaging and thought-provoking novel.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Anyone who has a passing interest in Sri Lanka should read this beautiful novel.’ Sunday Telegraph

'Mosquito shimmers with evocative prose but it also resonates with the darkness of men’s cruelty. This is not a thriller, but the tension is palpable. Don’t be surprised if the film rights are snapped up quickly.'  The Courier Mail (Australia)

From the Back Cover

When Theo returns to his native Sri Lanka after his wife's death, he hopes to escape his loss amidst the lush landscape of his increasingly war-torn country. But as he gives himself up to life in his beautiful, tortured land, he finds himself slipping into friendship with an artistic young girl, Nulani – a friendship that blossoms into love. Under the threat of civil war, as the quiet coastal town fills with whispers and suspicions, their affair offers a glimmer of hope to a country on the brink of destruction.

But all too soon, the violence that casts an ominous shadow over their love explodes. No-one, it seems, is safe; only the sea and the land remain breathtakingly lovely. As the country descends into a morass of violence and hatred, the tragedy of civil conflict spreads like a poison among friends and lovers sickened by the face of war. Ultimately, each of them will be tested in the most terrible ways…

Beautifully written, by turns heartbreaking and uplifting, “Mosquito” is a first novel of remarkable and compelling power.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and tender new novel 12 Mar 2007
I bought this book because I already knew and loved the author's work as a painter, and was curious to see what her fiction would be like. I was not disappointed. The artist is evident in the way that Roma Tearne's writing evokes a sense of place, making you feel that you have visited Sri Lanka yourself. You feel the heat, hear sound of the sea and monsoon rain and sense and smell the fruits and flowers. However, what was new and exiting for me was the strength of the narrative. The book skillfully interweaves tender and beautiful love stories through a powerful telling of the desperate and senseless violence and human exploitation that is civil war. The book does not shrink from showing us the horror of bombings and torture, but at no time are the descriptions merely there to shock: she knows exactly when to stop and when less is more. Ultimately though, Mosquito is a story that inspires hope, achieved through moving and unsentimental stories of love: the hero Theo's love for Anna his dead wife and for the young Sri Lankan girl Nulani, the love of the housekeeper for Theo and Nulani, and the love between Theo's oldest friends, whose relationship is tested to the core by the dark events of the civil war. I couldn't put it down, and thoroughly recommend it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A teardrop in the ocean 13 Mar 2007
By Oberon
The blurb on the back says Roma Tearne is an artist. I might have guessed, because this book is an assault on the senses - the thin whine of swarming mosquitoes, night flowers blooming in ghostly clusters, smells of coconut and linseed oil, of hot steam and rainy morning breakfast. Tearne has the deftest way of capturing an image and giving it her own wry twist:

'It was a useless house really, everything was broken or badly mended, everything was covered in fine sea sand, caked in old sweat and unhappiness.'

So what is Mosquito about? It's a love story and it's set in Sri Lanka. A middle-aged English writer falls for a local girl, who flits in and out of his life in much the same way as the iridescent butterflies. He can't quite keep a hold of her. And then there is the rival - a boy of her own age with a complicated past. For Sri Lanka is a complicated country, torn by war and the scars of that war. Tearne is a story teller - she's not out to make political points - but the war does intrude, it brings menace and bitterness and ultimately, violence.

Tearne's writing is so achingly vivid, it's hard to believe that she left Sri Lanka when she was only ten years old. It's equally hard to believe this is her first novel. It was a joy to read - and I hope she's writing another.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why you should read Mosquito by Roma Tearne 19 Mar 2007
This is a truly remarkable first novel. In it Roma Tearne has managed

to combine a fast moving and exciting story with the most splendid

evocation of tropical Sri Lanka in the context of a war which is as

relevant today as it was several years ago. The story powerfully

gripping, and few people will be able to put it down once they begin

it. The narrative builds slowly and lyrically at first but then

starts to move along with and almost vertiginous speed producing

surprising and arresting twists and turns. The story is set mainly in

the author's native Sri Lanka, with its dense, wet forests, its long

open beaches, its turquoise seas and its vividly coloured plants. The

characters pass their life in what should be an Edenic world but the

shadow of war falls across the land as it falls, too, across the

lives of the characters. Without warning this fertile and burgeoning

world is split open and the exotic idyll is disturbed in the most

violent and unexpected way. The conflict is, of course, the same one

which breeds death and destruction in Sri Lanka today, the civil war

which broke out between the Tamils and the Singhalese after the

withdrawal of British rule in 1945. According to the book jacket it

was this struggle which forced author's parents to flee the island in

the 1960s, and the incidents have clearly made an indelible

impression on the child's imagination.

The dominant impression of reading this book involves light and

colour, of shade, of dark and of half-light.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Theo Saramajeeva, a successful writer and film-maker in London, has returned to his native country, Sri Lanka, seeking solace in his spiritual "home" following the traumatic death of his Italian wife. The civil war is on, and Sinhalese government soldiers patrol the roads and beaches. Though Theo, a Sinhalese, sees much evil in his own people and much good in the enemy Tamils, he does not fear violence to himself--he believes that reason can triumph, given a chance. In a separate plot line, Vikram, a Tamil boy soldier-killer, is adopted by a Sinhalese at age twelve and provided with schooling and a better life, but his guardian is gone for years at a time, leaving Vikram virtually on his own. Remembering the terrible deaths of his family, he soon finds his own spiritual "home," once again, among the Tamils--both the separatists and those who want more than a separate state--Tamil domination of the entire country.

Nulani Mendis, a seventeen-year-old Sinhalese with a brutally violent uncle, a high-ranking government soldier, has been mute after watching her father burned to death. She has a fine talent as an artist, however, and when she meets Theo, who is twenty-eight years older than she, she begins to reenter the world again as she sets out to paint his portrait. Gradually, and carefully, they fall in love. Vikram, the prowling Tamil spy, now sixteen, is also in love with her.

When the war explodes in the countryside where these characters live, the Sinhalese, their associates, and friends find that they can no longer recognize the world as human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I nearly gave up
Having read brixton beach, which I loved, I found this one more difficult. It has the same amazingly descriptive writing but I found myself being annoyed by the main character... Read more
Published 2 months ago by harriett
4.0 out of 5 stars A Violent Beauty
A first novel by a painter about a writer, Mosquito is the story of a Sri Lankan author living in London who returns to his war-torn homeland after realising he no longer has... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amy James
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant read
Such a gripping story of love and courage, the descriptions of characters and location are just brilliant. To be recommened.
Published 5 months ago by mrs lynda griffiths
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
In this novel by Roma Thearne, the protagonist, Theo Samarajeeva, leaves his comfortable writer's life in London and returns to Sri Lanka, his war-torn homeland. So far, so good. Read more
Published 7 months ago by K. Cory-Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Mosquito
I was recommended Brixton Beach as I was going to Sri Lanka for hols.
I bought both and I prefered Mosquito to Brixton Beach. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Breon de Soyza
5.0 out of 5 stars Mosquito another excellant book by roma terne
I choose this rating because I couldn't put the book down. Well written and detailed description of Sri Lanka,
I love roma tearne as a writer and have read many of her books... Read more
Published 9 months ago by poppy
4.0 out of 5 stars BRUTALITY IN PARADISE
Published 12 months ago by DALE
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
A beautifully written book which captures the troubles in Sri Lanka. A very powerful and moving love story. I will pass it on to my friends.
Published 12 months ago by susan e brierley
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read for holiday
Once again excellent book from Roma! Good holiday read -Love the characters very emotional and sometimes alarming and sad. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ms Jacqueline Ann Walpole
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STORY
We discovered Roma Tearne whilst on holiday in Sri Lanka where we read her first book Brixton Beach. Read more
Published 16 months ago by kevin dee
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