Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
Munaweera's writing is exquisite. It flows so smoothly it seems casual. There are no wasted words or dull prose. Each sentence is a new structure and complete idea, yet it flows seamlessly between the one before and after. She presents vividly the breathtaking beauty found in Sri Lankan nature and the heart-wrenching joys and sorrows found in human relationships. Matter-of-factly interspersed are intense, brutal, numbing depictions of the unnatural and inhuman actions of civilian warriors. I experienced some difficulty following the characters and their relationships. I am not at all familiar with Sri Lankan names, and I had to write down family trees and notes as I read to keep them straight. I would recommend reading the book in as few sittings as possible. I will reread this book soon, with pleasure, and I look forward to more of her work.
Diane P. (Deer Park, WA)
Great debut novel...
Island of a Thousand Mirrors is the story of two families on opposite sides of the civil war that raged in Sri Lanka for 26 years. Told by the eldest daughter of each family, the story is definitely told from a woman's view.
Ever since reading Anil's Ghost Sri Lanka has interested me as to how such a small country could have such a brutal history. The civil war based on ethic lines cost the lives of thousands of Sri Lanka's citizens especially the Tamil.
While the Sinhalese family immigrated to America the Tamil family remained in Sri Lanka, either family was spared in this conflict. It is clear that any country that is involved in a 26 year civil war leaves no citizen of that country unharmed.
Nayomi Munaweer writing was even and flowed well. I truly enjoyed her writing and I believe that she has a lot to offer as a writer. One thing that stood out for me was that the Tamil daughter's story was very cold and brittle. I would have liked just a bit more on her side of this story.
Nancy K. (Toledo, OH)
Beautifully written book about "TheTroubles" of Sri Lanka
This is a must read book for readers who love to read about a far away land that they have heard about but have never really understood what ever happened in Sri Lanka. It's a story of love, hate, treachery and redemption. Conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalas lead to a bloody Civil War that affects all the characters we learn to love in this story. The author is so good at description that you can actually taste some of the foods she writes about and smell the lush gardens she describes so beautifully. A good example would be "we press Mala to take us into her garden where green things shoot out of the ground, thick flowers explode into fruit, ferns unfurl themselves like plumage."
This would be a great book for book groups to read as there is so much to discuss, especially the characters.
Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA)
Island of a Thousand mirrors
Most of the story takes place in Sri Lanka, an island off the south coast of India. Nayomi Munaweera 's prose is so incredibly beautiful that one can visually be transported to stand under the shade of the mango tree or feel the rolling waves of the ocean under your feet. The story is about two families Yasodhara and her Sinhalese family and Saraswathi and her Tamil family. It all takes place just before and during the bloody Civil War between these two divided groups. I struggled at first because of all the similar but different names but after a while I could not read fast enough, it started with young romance while we followed the 2 families thru the ethnic and political tensions which resulted into the Civil War, and the descriptions of some of the horrors that we inflict upon one another when differences have escalated into brutality and hate. We also learn of the love between family members, their daily rituals, the foods they eat but most of all the humanity of the women in this story. What a gorgeous book, parts of it so heartbreaking I could not control the tears that would flow from my eyes and blurred my reading. When I finished this book I could not put it down so I have started reading it again, better the second time around.
Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)
Island of a thousand mirrors
Munaweera is an exciting and talented new voice. Her descriptive powers are enormous and in using both sides of the Sinhalese/Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka, a case for the casualties of war-that are really the innocent families of both sides-becomes paramount. The violence perpetrated on Saraswathi leads her to perpetuate it and visit it on the sister of Yasodhara. This was a civil war that occurred before those of most recent years in Bosnia, Sudan, Rwanda. It is also about class: those with connections and/or the means are able to leave, those in poverty are doomed to be victims.
The writing is quite lyrical and gives voice to each character. I felt emotionally vested in them, no matter the nationalism because Munaweera is capable of finding the humanity beneath the cultural divide.
Shelley C. (Eastport, NY)
a really good story
I just finished reading this book. It was about a place I knew little about, but the author's descriptive language actually allowed me to feel, taste, and see Sri Lanka. The story was extremely moving; heartbreaking in parts and heartwarming in others. I look forward to reading other books by this author. I am extremely glad I got to read this, her first novel.
Marion W. (Issaquah, WA)
A Country Torn Apart
Set largely on the island nation of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), this is the story of two families: one belonging to the majority Sinhalese people, and the other to the minority Tamil group. After years of exploitation by colonial powers, Sri Lanka gained independence, and its citizens began jockeying for power. Tamil secessionists turned to violence, and the next three decades saw the Civil War, with 80,000 deaths.
This novel follows the lives of two girls from the different
ethnic groups, and how their lives were affected by the political situation. It's a memorable book, rich in descriptions of the tastes, smells, and sights of this beautiful place of clear waters, colorful flowers and birds, folklore and family stories. The characters seem very real in their conflicts and decisions and attitudes. In this prize-winning novel, we see that even though idyllic
childhoods may devolve into heart-breaking adult years, the beauty and courage of the human spirit resound for the reader. Highly recommended!