Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022 and Award Winners

What readers think of Island of a Thousand Mirrors, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 224 pages

    Jan 2016, 256 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book


Page 1 of 3
There are currently 24 reader reviews for Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Power Reviewer

Unique and Special
I like books that tell a story that is not a formula. It always seems to add something special when there is an historic element. At times I had trouble keeping track of who all the characters are, so I found myself creating a character list at the front of the book. My least favorite part of the book was when some of the characters moved to the Los Angeles area. While I realize that this is an important part of the history of the USA and the immigrant experience, somehow I felt like I lost a little interest at this point. Still, it is a very good book.

Takes you to another time and place
I wasn't sure what I would think of this book when I started it, war stories aren't my favorite. I also found it difficult to keep all of the characters straight. However, once I got past the first few chapters none of that mattered.
This book is so beautifully written that it was almost like I was taken to another time and place where the events were happening. The imagery that her words evoke is amazing! It opened my heart and gave me a great deal of empathy for those living in war torn countries. I highly recommend it.....

War from a woman's perspective.
Having read quite a few immigrant fiction about the diaspora South Asian and others, I wasn't expecting much. Island of a thousand mirrors is a story about the Sri Lankan civil war and refreshingly enough all the major protagonists are women. I have vivid memories of Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi being assassinated by the LTTE female suicide bombers. Having been very aware of India's failed peace keeping efforts in Lanka, I remember wondering about the Buddhist ahimsa going awry in that part of the world where monks were the killers and where the Buddhist majority went on a carnage against the Tamil (hindu) minority, thanks to colonial England's segregate and rule policy. Later the cry for an independent Eelam by the Tamil tigers led that country into 20 plus years of the worst kind of atrocities.

Munaweera's book captures the gore, & the human element of war without machismo, glamour, or pontifications. Her story is judgment free and poignantly beautiful. It brings the gorgeous Island of Sri Lanka to life and paints the life of it's protagonists: Yasodhara, Saraswati, Lanka, Shiva a very three dimensional way. I absolutely love this book and thank you Book browse for sending me a free copy. I highly recommed this book. It exposes the beauty of Sri Lanka and makes me want to visit. Unwittingly, Munaweera paints a beautiful picture of a verdant island...
Molly B. (Longmont, CO)

Gorgeous Writing
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.
Power Reviewer
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.
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Beyond the Book:
  The Sri Lankan Civil War

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Voted 2022 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Geraldine Brooks creates a ...
  • Book Jacket: In Love
    In Love
    by Amy Bloom
    Voted 2022 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. In 2019, author Amy Bloom and her...
  • Book Jacket: Remarkably Bright Creatures
    Remarkably Bright Creatures
    by Shelby Van Pelt
    Voted 2022 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel, ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe

    The debut novel of a gifted storyteller who has become a sensation in her native South Africa.


The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
by Thrity Umrigar
Set in India, a tender and evocative novel about love across a cultural divide, familial devotion and betrayal.
Who Said...

The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.