Read advance reader review of Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera, page 2 of 3

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Island of a Thousand Mirrors

by Nayomi Munaweera

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera X
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 224 pages

    Jan 2016, 256 pages


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There are currently 21 member reviews
for Island of a Thousand Mirrors
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  • Barbara T. (Cumberland, ME)
    Heart-wrenching Insights
    Although I am an avid reader of novels about other cultures, I found myself reading Island of a Thousand Mirrors with a mix of interest and confusion. Nayomi Manaweera weaves this multi-family saga masterfully; the author is to be praised for offering sensitive insight into the Sinhala-Tamil conflict. Unfortunately, there is also some confusion in the telling. Like any story with unfamiliar 'foreign' names, this book constantly challenges the reader to keep the characters properly related. Separate anecdotes are related side-by-side, switching back and forth sometimes abruptly. About 100 pages in, just when I thought I understood the relationships, a man Thatha is mentioned for the first time and the reader is expected to know him. I actually stopped to look up the word, as I suspected it was a term of familial endearment; yes, Thatha is Tamil for Grandfather. Many pages later I deduced that Thatha is the narrator's father, whom the reader has known since the first chapter. He is no one's grandfather, however, so my research was misleading. I experienced more confusion when, in Part Two, Saraswathi comes into the story. As events unfold, the author hints that Saraswathi recognizes one of the women from Part One. I still haven't figured out that connection, although I've read the book through to the end twice now. All this said, I do highly recommend this book. Ms. Manaweera has created a heart-wrenching, insightful portrayal of the all-too-human tribal conflict in Sri Lanka. It's worth muddling through the confusion.
  • Pam M. (Lake Mary, FL)
    Thought and emotion provoking novel
    This novel tackles 'love and war' from a primarily female perspective offering insights from opposing perspectives. The language is rich, descriptive and compelling, as is the storyline. A fast and rewarding read, it was both thought provoking and emotionally engaging. Centering on the disturbing conflict in Sri Lanka, relationships and families are woven close together on one hand, divided and torn apart on the other. As a central character tried to explain the situation, "It is a war between equally corrupt forces . . . clear distinctions . . . moral certainty . . . " does not exist.

    I discovered that I tend to read too fast! This novel encouraged me to slow down in order to more fully appreciate and better understand the cultural and behavioral opposites at work, as well to simply appreciate and enjoy the work of this creative wordsmith.
  • Jan Z. (Jefferson, SD)
    Island of a Thousand Mirrors
    Set into the gorgous Sri Lankan backdrop, this magnificent debut novel by Nayomi Munaweera follows the unlikely friendship of children, sisters Yasodhara and La, and the Tamil boy Shiva, into adulthood and the horrors of the Sri Lankan civil war.

    Initially when the violence starts to escalate, the families of the children emigrate; Yasodhara and La to the United States and Shiva to London. Later, as adults they return and the course of the novel veers toward a violent and heartbreaking ending with the introduction of Saraswathi, a broken and vengeful Tamil freedom fighter.

    This superb novel never takes sides in the conflict and is written with the lushness of all the different Sri Lankan histories and backgrounds. The story relates personal viewpoints of characters reduced to trying to maintain their humanity despite the absurdity of the violence inhabiting their lives. A must read!
  • Rose N. (Saginaw, MI)
    Island of a Thousand Mirrors
    The 'Island of a Thousand Mirrors' is Sri Lanka. In this beautifully written and unforgetable novel, Nayomi Munaweera tells a tale not only of family and romantic love but also of cruel and devastating civil war. This war, which began in 1983 and lasted twenty-seven years, was waged between the Tamil Tigers and the Sinhalese government. This is a story of how the war affects two Tamil and one Sinhala. As described by Munaweera, Sri Lanka should be a lush paradise, but civil war has turned it into a horror where many innocent people have been terrorized and killed. Still, some of the victims of war find love and hope by leaving their beloved island and making life anew in other countries. This novel was truly an educational and inspirational adventure for me.
  • Lani S. (Narberth, PA)
    An exploration of war and loss
    I was very anxious to read this book after being in Sri Lanka last year and visiting friend's relatives who lived there. Although, the first 80 pages felt like a poorly written soap opera, this dynamic devastating story picked up steam after that and never let down. This heartbreaking wrenching story of two close families, one Tamil and the other Sinhala, torn apart by civil war, becomes brutally alive as one endures reading about the atrocities created in the name of each side's righteous indignation of one another.

    How ironic that today, the UN Rights council just approved an investigation into possible war crimes by both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels in the final stages of the 26 year old civil war, ending in 2009, much to the fierce objections of the Sri Lankan government. The ending of the story is neatly tied together to expose the reality that no one is a winner.
  • Glen H. (Ovid, ID)
    Island of a Thousand Mirrors
    If found it difficult to navigate through the maize of relationships in the first half of this novel. Once the war started and the plot narrowed; the characters took shape, and I was moved by the story, and appreciated the authors range and depth of description. Presenting a sympathetic view of a suicide bomber is an amazing accomplishment. I also loved the way the novel ended. I hope this author continues to write, and moves beyond the autobiographical realm.
    A wonderful historical fiction read
    I did not know much of Sri Lanka before this lyrical book. Yasodhara tells the story of her loving family who want for nothing. It also tells the story of friendship and lasting ties to another person. A wonderful historical fiction read!
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Beyond the Book:
  The Sri Lankan Civil War

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