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Island of a Thousand Mirrors
A stunning literary debut set during the Sri Lankan Civil War
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Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Created: 09/12/14

Replies: 14

Posted Sep. 12, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Munaweera has admitted that this is a book obsessed with food. In what ways did you find this to be true? Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?


Posted Sep. 15, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 165

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

The food parts were interesting but did not make me interested in Sri Lankan cuisine. I was interested to get a refresher course on the conflict. I found it interesting to experience it through the eyes of women. However, the timeline was hard to follow.


Posted Sep. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

Posts: 206

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

The food sounded like Indian food, which is too hot (spicy) for me. However, my grown children love it I think I would like it if it weren't so hot.


Posted Sep. 17, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pate

Join Date: 03/15/13

Posts: 21

RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

I did enjoy reading about Sri Lankan cuisine, and probably would be more inclined now to sample their food. But, I have to say, I was more interested in finding out more about the conflict and Sri Lankan culure since I knew very little about it before reading this book. I did do some reading about both and found it definitely enhanced my understanding of the characters as well as what they experienced.


Posted Sep. 17, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Talking of background to the civil war - we published our "beyond the book" article to Island of a Thousand Mirrors today as part of the content about the book in today's online mag. The full text of the reviews and articles are generally only available to members so for those who aren't here is what we wrote... (if you are a member you might wish to read the article in situ - if only for the gorgeous aerial photo of the submerged land bridge between the mainland and Sri Lanka: http://bit.ly/1uIiapw)


The country of Sri Lanka covers an area of just over 25,000 square miles. Located off the southern tip of India, the island has been called "the pearl of the Indian Ocean" due to to its shape, location, and natural beauty. Separated from India by about 18 miles at its closest point it is believed that there was a land bridge between it and the mainland up until the 15th century. Today, the chain of limestone shoals, known as Rama's bridge or Adam's bridge can clearly be seen from the air. Full of lush green landscape, tropical forests, waterfalls, and beaches, it is no wonder that, according to Islamic folklore, Sri Lanka was offered as a refuge for Adam and Eve after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

There had been tension between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority before Sri Lanka became an independent country in 1948, but it escalated afterwards, when competition for work and money became stiff and the Sinhalese, after years of feeling suppressed by British rule, and resentful of the many hundreds of thousands of Tamil workers that the British brought into the country from the mainland to work on the coffee, tea and rubber estates, wanted to reassert their culture, language and customs. Anti-Tamil legislation was passed over the next 35 years, including the Sinhala Only Official Languages Act, economic conditions worsened, and class divides widened, all of which resulted in riots and rebellions from both the Tamil and Sinhalese populations.

The "official" Sri Lankan civil lasted from July 1983 through May 2009. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (also known as the Tamil Tigers), an independent militant organization, wanted to create an independent state in the northeast of the island and waged an on-again-off-again rebellion against the government for over 26 years.

During that time, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed. Most of the fighting took place in the north, where most of the Tamil minority reside, but at times fighting spread through the rest of the country, with devastating results, such as suicide bombings in the capitol Colombo. In 1987, an Indian Peacekeeping Force was brought in to negotiate a ceasefire, with little effect; later, in 2002, another ceasefire was tentatively agreed upon; but it took another seven years for the war to officially end.

Today, the country has a population of about 12 million made up of about 75% Sinhalese, 11% Sri Lankan Tamils, 4% Indian Tamils (mostly brought over by the British during the 19th century) and 9% Moors (descended from Arab traders). In July, 2014, the United Nations (UN) began an investigation into possible human rights violations in Sri Lanka, including war crimes, that were committed by both the Sinhalese and Tamils during the civil war. Torture, camp internments and people simply "disappearing" are among the violations being examined. The Sri Lankan government will not cooperate with the UN, stating that it can handle an investigation of its own, but the UN is moving forward with it regardless.


Posted Sep. 18, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ylhoff

Join Date: 10/23/12

Posts: 56

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

I believe the food was such an important part of the book because often food is what best defines a culture. In this case, lush, fiery, full of flavor. It also highlighted how important family relationships are in Sri Lanka. In the American culture, we are at war with our food ... in East Asian cultures, it is so vital. So much of our childhoods are related to the smell and texture of food and for those of us old enough, family eating together is a memory we often wish we could go back to.


Posted Sep. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 294

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

The preparation of food is important in many countries. I could appreciate the food descriptions in this book since I have traveled in that part of the world and tasted some unusual (to me) spices and flavors. I don't think that I ever felt like this book stirred up a curiosity in or desire for Sri Lankan cuisine. It simply seemed a part of the story.


Posted Sep. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kate

Join Date: 01/22/11

Posts: 50

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

I agree with some of the other posts in that the cuisine was part of the book; but I had no desire to find out about the food as much as what actually was happening in Sri Lanka at that time. I am sad to say I was not very well versed in what was happening to the people in that country at that time. Another reason I love to read historical fiction!


Posted Sep. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 53

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Not so much about the food and more about Sri Lanka, after reading for the third time this beautifully written book, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, I am now reading another book about Sri Lanka called Anil’s Ghost by Michael Onddaatje, I can’t get enough about this magical place which was completely unknown to me. I also cannot wait for Nayomi Munaweera to write another book.


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 271

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

I think food is very important to any culture. Two years ago we went to India with a side trip to Sri Lanka and I found the food, people and country delightful. This book certainly provides a new perspective.


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanp

Join Date: 03/19/14

Posts: 4

RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

I love sampling different foods. I felt that food was an important part of the book--not just the food, but who prepares it and how it is shared at mealtime. Spicy! Yum!


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gin

Join Date: 10/21/12

Posts: 24

RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Food was an obvious interest of the author and the descriptions of meals gave me a real sense of the country. I would love to try some of the dishes described. In the author's comments, she say the book is about love. The preparation and sharing food are acts of love.


Posted Oct. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Very familiar with Sri Lankan cuisine, made me hungry for the delicious dished reference. Yum!


Posted Oct. 05, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 170

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

The cuisine aspect was interesting. I have had similar foods and love the spicy foods (Thai). But since I am focused on losing weight I do not linger on the cuisine portions. I prefer the historical aspect and the human relationship aspect of the story.


Posted Oct. 06, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Beth350

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 67

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RE: Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?

Yes, every time I read a book that has characters who eat foods from different countries (or even different parts of the US) I am intrigued. I collect cookbooks and have many that feature foods from other areas. The way people eat and how they view food is often a huge part of their cultural heritage.


Beth350

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