While the title refers to a cricket match, the book’s real action is played out against a volatile background of political revolution in Sri Lanka.
Sunny is a young man growing up in Manila, though his father, a journalist, is originally from Sri Lanka. As a boy, Sunny is enamored of two things: cricket and Tina, and both obsessions converge in a match in which Tina, a natural at the sport, helps Sunny’s team eke out a victory. Almost immediately after the flush of this achievement, however, Sunny’s world starts to fall apart when he discovers that his mother’s “accidental” death was actually a suicide—and he blames his father for her self-destruction. His life takes another unexpected turn when he travels to London to study engineering, a field he has almost no interest in. For a time, what does absorb him is the swinging capital itself, though he discovers that his friend Lydia, who is studying meteorology there, spends her time measuring old rocks, not partying. “So much for hedonism,” he concludes. Sunny’s life continues to unfold in unpredictable ways, especially after he meets and marries radiant Clara. Abandoning engineering, Sunny opens a photography studio with tepid results. He and Clara have a son, Mikey, who grows up much more interested in rock music than in cricket or in his parents’ heritage. Eventually Sunny’s domestic world begins to fragment, and he decides to visit Sri Lanka. The final cricket match Sunny witnesses becomes an epiphany, for he is graced with a circumscribed but nevertheless momentous realization that “things could be renewed,” and that he can use words to “bring peace to his own mind if not to the world.”
The latest from Gunesekera (Heaven’s Edge, 2003, etc.) is a gentle story of awakening and regeneration.