Monday, November 28, 2005

B-Reef Reading

There's a special magic about hearing an author read his own words and it was a real treat to listen to Romesh Gunasekera read from Reef both at Silverfish and at the British Council reception Friday night.

It's a book of "memory and imagination ... how you work out who you are and why you're there ..." (Romesh's words) and the characters have taken up residence in my head.

The story is a long flashback, narrated by a Sri Lankan restauranteur living in London after a late night encounter with a compatriot at a petrol station. Triton recalls his life as a houseboy in the employ of Mr. Salgado, an aristocratic dilettante, and how he gradually takes over the running of the household. Triton observes and puzzles over Salgado's relationship with the unconventional Nili, and does his best to lubricate the friendship with wonderous offerings of food (the love cake with extra eggs and freshest butter, the beautiful parrot fish, and of course the Christmas turkey).

It's a novel of great charm and beauty.

Another book of Romesh's that I've greatly enjoyed is Monkfish Moon, his collection of short fiction set between Britain and Sri Lanka. My favourite story is Batik, about a Sri Lankan couple living in London in an apartment they have carefully and lovingly renovated together. But now the news of atrocities committed at home threatens to tear their relationship apart. As in Reef, there's a sense of safety lost, a paradise despoiled.

Truth is held in the smallest of details - the gory dissection of the chicken for dinner, the bruise coloured door, the shards of a shattered cup.

A tiny gem but totally satisfying.


Leon wrote about the Friday night reception at British Council director's place. Since we don't have photos, we have blog memories, Leon.


Archive Of Learning said...

HI Sharon,
Is the BC library now completed revamped? Any ideas on the magazine selections? More literary mags?


Archive Of Learning said...

Oops, I mean any idea

bibliobibuli said...

hi clarissa - a lot of new fiction for both adults and children has been ordered. we've particularly focused on the young adult section. the books are now arriving but it will take time to get them onto the shelves. i am still keeping my eyes open for new titles that sound interesting for next year and then looking to see what's missing in the collection so i can fill in gaps.

the magazine section i think has been streamlined - library users were asked to indicate which they found most useful, so the most popular titles are there - the bookseller and the TLS are there but i don't think there are others. can find out for you.

maybe you'd like to say what you'd like to see there and i can feed it back to the team?

Leon Wing said...

Clarissa, I found out that quite a number of Brit magazines were discontinued their subscription because there were no comments from library users on the little pieces of papers stuck onto them, on whether they want to read future issues of them any more. And more's the pity that one of the unfortunate magazines culled is Granta. It's the best literary mag I've ever read, and I'm still reading it as I subscribe to it.

bibliobibuli said...

granta's great - let me check this out ...

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Hillary's "Morte d'Arthur" again. Checked it out once :)