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Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Manaweera

island of a thousand mirrorsThis is an important book by a debut novelist who has been compared to both Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) and Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake).

I was first struck by the beauty of the writing. There are sentences that I stopped to read again. Here is the opening paragraph: "My name is Yasodhara Rajasinghe and this is the story of my family. It is also one possible narrative of my island. But we are always interlopers into history, dropped into a story that has been going on far before we are born, and so I must start much earlier than my birth, and I must start with the boy who will become my father." Pulls you in, doesn't it?

This is a story of Ceylon, which is now called Sri Lanka, and of the country’s civil war that took place over decades as rival forces struggle for power. And yes, there is violence and there is blood. But there is also so much beauty in this novel that you are drawn through the war by your loyalty to the characters, their story, and their land. Two main characters, one Tamil and one Sinhala, were raised virtually together before the troubles and appear and reappear as the story moves along.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors won the Commonwealth Book Prize for Asia, quite an accomplishment for a first time author. Highly recommended.

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