A strange, lyrical third novel about a young man searching for his father and his lover in a war-torn tropical island, by the London-based Sri Lankan novelist (The Sandglass, 1998, etc.).
Born and raised in London, Marc is the grandson of an immigrant from “the island” (unnamed but obviously Sri Lanka), and he grew up hearing such tales of its lush natural beauty from his grandfather that he came to imagine it as a kind of Eden. His fascination turned into obsession, however, when Marc’s father (also raised in London) traveled to the island while Marc was still a boy—and never returned. Now Marc has arrived there himself to try to learn what he can about the whereabouts of his father and the history of his family. Rival gangs of warlords control the island and most of the cities are in ruins—as is much of the countryside, stripped of its crops and vegetation by the various warring armies. On his first day there, though, Marc discovers a beautiful girl releasing doves in the forest. Her name is Uva, and she’s an “ecowarrior” who tries to repair the damage to the island by planting crops and raising animals against the decrees of the warlords (who want the populace dependent on them for food). Marc and Uva quickly become lovers, but then Uva is kidnapped by army thugs. In his search for her, Marc becomes part of an underground resistance movement and roams the island with his new comrades Jaz and Kris. Before he learns what became of Uva, however, he makes some startling discoveries about the real story behind his father’s disappearance, and he learns what true horror lies beneath the deceptively beautiful face of this bright but cruel place.
With great feeling and intensity, this is an odd story nevertheless: a strange mix of New Age politics, magical-realism, and multicultural fabulism.