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Gunesekera, Romesh

reef sri servant prose

(Sri Lankan, 1954– )

Arriving in England in 1972, Gunesekera started publishing poetry and prose in newspapers and magazines. His lyrical debut, Monkfish Moon (1992), contained short stories handling the troubled lives of Sri Lankans amidst the political turmoil of their divided island paradise, or else surviving as exiles in London. His first novel, Reef (1994), was nominated for the Booker Prize (1994). Striking for its poetic prose and linguistic command, Reef is a historically charged and metaphorically radiant tale; especially in the use of the reef itself. Triton, a cook, narrates in single flashback a period from his life when he was a servant in Sri Lanka for Mr Salgado, a marine biologist working on an imperilled reef. The mutual dependency of master and servant, the colonial charade played out at Christmas, and the love they both bear towards Miss Nili before harmony is fractured by ethnic politics, are all story-lines superbly under Gunesekera's control.

V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie  AM

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