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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There is no tomorrow without yesterday."
Heaven’s Edge is unique--it is not a romance, not a war chronicle, not a religious allegory, not an ecological polemic, and not science fiction, though it contains elements of all these genre. Marc, a young college graduate from London, has returned to an unnamed island, much like the author’s island of Sri Lanka, on a mission to connect with his...
Published on 26 Mar. 2003 by Mary Whipple

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thin, ranting and trite
What can I say that's good about it? It is imaginative and seeks to tackle important subjects.

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...
Published on 28 Mar. 2007 by Sarah Wilson


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There is no tomorrow without yesterday.", 26 Mar. 2003
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Heaven's Edge (Paperback)
Heaven’s Edge is unique--it is not a romance, not a war chronicle, not a religious allegory, not an ecological polemic, and not science fiction, though it contains elements of all these genre. Marc, a young college graduate from London, has returned to an unnamed island, much like the author’s island of Sri Lanka, on a mission to connect with his father’s memory. His father, a military pilot, left the family in England when Marc was a very young child and returned to the island where he died while on a mission. Marc’s doting grandfather, who raised him, never understood what drove his son to return to the very island he himself had escaped.
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. Mind-numbing violence, brutally perpetrated by the military to remove any question of free thought and independent activity in the population, is the only constant in the lives of the characters, as Gunesekera explores our need to remain connected to our pasts and the ways in which our futures are outgrowths of our pasts. The graphically described violence further sets into sharp relief themes of personal identity, the desire for beauty, and the need to protect and preserve the natural world.
Sometimes enigmatic and even a bit preachy, the novel is at once magical and nightmarish, full of myth and allegory at the same time that it offers haunting, cautionary tales about the past and the use of violence to change the present and affect the future. Echoes of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, the fall of man, legends about peacocks and leopards, and episodes telling the importance of love and respect pervade the novel, giving it immense color and depth as Marc tries to connect with the past. Clearly a pacifist, Gunesekera says, "The art of killing cannot be our finest achievement...Nothing is inevitable." But Gunesekera does not believe in being completely passive or non-violent when faced with true threats to life. "Sometimes you have to sacrifice your innocence to protect this world," he says. In this memorable novel with its stunning depictions of nature, especially birds and butterflies as they try to survive the depredations of man, he makes a powerful, ecological and political statement, presenting characters who try to create gardens of their own out of the decimated gardens of their pasts. Mary Whipple
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5.0 out of 5 stars A serious work of magical realism - Not for escapists, 4 July 2013
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This review is from: Heaven's Edge (Paperback)
If you are someone who believes the tourist cliches about Sri Lanka being a paradise this book is not for you. The story is set on an unnamed island which could perhaps be Sri Lanka but is probably not. I call this a book of magical realism because Gunesekera has brilliantly imagined a post-apocalyptic landscape where the truth is hard to find. The narrator is a young man named Marc, born in Britain of parents who had emigrated from the island. Both parents died when Marc was a child and he is brought up by his grandparents. His grandmother gave him a background of "solid" reality, "making pancakes and baking him banana bread or ginger cake every Sunday". After his grandparents also die, Marc is left without moorings. He comes across an old video cassette in which his father had recorded his experiences on the island where he mysteriously died. Marc feels impelled to travel to the island to find himself, his "soul". On the island Marc finds that nothing is what it seems. He meets a girl named Uva who accompanies him on a series of adventures which easily hold the reader's interest.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thin, ranting and trite, 28 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Heaven's Edge (Paperback)
What can I say that's good about it? It is imaginative and seeks to tackle important subjects.

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
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my idea of heaven...., 2 May 2007
This review is from: Heaven's Edge (Paperback)
I've been rather keen to read one of Romesh's books for a while and recently picked up this novel from my local library.

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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dance Macabre in slow motion., 9 May 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Heaven's Edge (Paperback)
This is an entrancing, gripping story that haunts: a remarkable and disturbing fantasy narrated with balletic poise.
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.
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Heaven's Edge
Heaven's Edge by Romesh Gunesekera (Paperback - 3 Feb. 2003)
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