From the winner of the 2009 Impress Prize for New Writers (U.K.) and finalist for the Sunday Times Short Story Award, a stunning debut novel about an extended Sri Lankan family - a kaleidoscopic view of contemporary immigrant life, by turns darkly funny, sad, poignant, and uproariously beautiful.
It's New Year's Eve 1982. At Victor and Nandini's home in southeast London, the family and their friends gather to ring in the new year. Whiskey and arrack have been poured, poppadoms are freshly fried, and baila music is on the stereo. Upstairs, the teenagers have gathered around the television to watch The Godfather again while drinking pilfered wine. Moving back and forth in time, from the 1970s to the present day, and from London to Sri Lanka and back again, we follow Victor and Nandini's children: Rohan, Gehan, and in particular dyslexic Preethi - funny, brash, and ultimately fragile. We also meet troubled Lolly and her beautiful sister Deirdre; wonderful Auntie Gertie; and terrible Kumar, whose dark deed will haunt the family.
In the end, Homesick emerges as a moving and powerful novel about Sri Lankans in England. In showcasing her characters' everyday anxieties and triumphs, Fernando effectively portrays a slice of humanity we can all - immigrants or not - identify with readily. It is this empathy that Fernando manages to elicit from her readers and that makes Homesick such a compelling, triumphant debut. (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Fernando writes expressively and finds an appropriate emotional correlative to convey a variety of tones, from nostalgic to tragic.
Everyone in Homesick seeks to belong - to a place, a community - and Fernando portrays their plight with a tenderness that extends to the very structure of [her book]... Home, in Fernando's world, is not a resting place, but rather the dream of a ritual, both inherited and of our own invention.
The Observer (UK)
Tender, uplifting and funny.
The Independent (UK)
Roshi Fernando is a powerful new voice... [In Homesick], charm, humour and poignancy alternate with dark trials... The book offers complex, mosaic characters and compelling storylines... Fernando's insight, wit, sensitivity and versatility mark her as a striking new talent.
The Sunday Times (UK)
It is notoriously difficult to capture an authentic immigrant voice. [Homesick] manage[s] it brilliantly... A debut that can confidently sit alongside the likes of Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Andrea Levy's Small Island... [Homesick] address[es] the trials of marriage, the coming to terms with sexuality and the need to find an identity in terms that are universal to all.
Literary Review (UK)
Fernando's observations are fresh and her style sharp. She can recreate a whole childhood's worth of low-key resentment in a couple of lines... Fernando is serious but never earnest; her compassion for her misguided characters is infectious, and the book leaves you with an uplifting glow.
The Irish Times
Exuberant... A rambunctious portrait of an extended Sri Lankan family in south London... as addictive as any full-length book by Vikram Seth or Michael Ondaatje.
In Homesick, Victor, a Sri Lankan immigrant to England, views his native country's cricket team as his own. He owes allegiance to them and takes pride in their successes. Roshi Fernando uses this sport as a metaphor for her character's desire to break free of colonial ties.
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