MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

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
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

About the Book
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents' ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara's family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara's life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl's...

Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict she has tried so hard to avoid – a conflict that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways.

In the tradition of Anil's Ghost and The God of Small Things, Nayomi Munaweera's Island of a Thousand Mirrors is an emotionally resonant saga of cultural heritage, heartbreaking conflict and deep family bonds. Narrated in two unforgettably authentic voices and spanning the entirety of the decades-long civil war, it offers and unparalleled portrait of a beautiful land during its most difficult moment by a spellbinding new literary talent who promises tremendous things to come.


Discussion Questions

  1. In this book, Munaweera takes o n the point of views of both a Sinhala woman and a Tamil woman. Why do you think she made this decision? What does it mean to try and express both points of view when the subject is a civil war? Do you think she was more successful in painting one or the o ther of these women? Which one and why do you think so?
  2. Did your reading of the Prologue change after you finished reading the book? How?
  3. This is a book partly about the process of immigration. Do you think Munaweera successfully captured the pleasures and pains of immigration? Did she successfully express the divided nature of the immigrant? Did she do so in ways that reminded you of other authors or was the experience of reading this book quite different?
  4. This novel has been compared to The God of Small Things, Anil's Ghost, and The Kite Runner. If you've read these books, do you think these are fair comparisons? Why or why not? Are there other authors/books Munaweera's style reminds you of?
  5. Visaka and Ravan's love is thwarted but their children go on t o fall in love. What dose Munaweera seem to be saying about destiny, the acts/sins of parents, the nature of love?
  6. The big white house on the seaside in Colombo figures prominently in this book. It is where Visaka grows up, where Yasodhara is brought after she is born and where the Upstairs - Downstairs wars take place. What does this house seem to represent in the book?
  7. The riots in 1983 are described as a pivot point in the history of Sri Lanka and in the plot of the book. Were these scenes similar to painful moments in other parts of the world?
  8. Saraswathie grows up with aspirations of becoming a teacher. Do you think what happens to her subsequently is plausible? Do you think Munaweera properly describes the process by which a normal girl might become a suicide bomber?
  9. The scene of Saraswathie's rape is extremely traumatic and Munaweera has admitted that it was quite difficult for her to write. Do you think the scene was necessary in the book or should literature stay away from depicting the most painful events in a character's life? Why do you think Munaweera chose to include this scene?
  10. Would you describe this book as a feminist work? If so, why?
  11. Munaweera has admitted that this is a book obsessed with food. Did you find this to be true? Did the book make you interested in finding out more about Sri Lankan cuisine?
  12. What does the ending message of the book seem to be?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of St. Martin's Griffin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Sri Lankan Civil War

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hamnet
    Hamnet
    by Maggie O'Farrell
    William Shakespeare's name is never used in Hamnet — a conspicuous absence around which Maggie...
  • Book Jacket: After the Last Border
    After the Last Border
    by Jessica Goudeau
    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people around the world is ...
  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...
  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Hieroglyphics
    by Jill McCorkle

    A mesmerizing novel about piecing together the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

The the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.