A grief-stricken novelist returns to Sri Lanka in this first novel from a Sri Lankan born, British-reared artist.
For years Sri Lankan native Theo Samarajeeva has been celebrated in England and beyond. His novel Tiger Lily brought the struggle of the separatist Tamil Tigers to world attention. Before its publication, few in the West knew there was a war of independence being fought against the powerful Singhalese government. But now all Theo wants is a simpler life back home, where he can mourn the death of his beloved wife, Anna, and try, if Karma allows, to write again. Sugi, Theo’s devoted servant, needs daily to remind Theo that the country has changed in his absence—and not for the better. He must obey the curfew! And he must avoid talking to Nulani, the odd, 17-year-old beauty who witnessed government-sponsored henchmen burn her father alive when she was a child. Although Nulani rarely speaks, she sketches constantly in a notebook. Theo recognizes her prodigious talent and encourages her. He sets up a studio in his home and buys Nulani oil paints in Colombo. As Nulani and Theo work through their individual grief, the guerilla war intensifies. Their mutual affection deepens into love, despite the 28-year age difference. It is only a matter of time before violence separates the lovers. Theo is imprisoned first by the Singhalese and later by the Tigers, and Nulani is cast to an immigrant’s uncertain fate. With vividly rendered tropical seascapes and jungles, and populated by philosophical servants and petulant power-mongers, this novel offers a moving May-December love story set against a conflict in which the warring parties ultimately become Violence and Art.