Romesh Gunesekera Biography
(1954– ), Monkfish Moon, Reef
Sri Lankan novelist and short-story writer, born in Sri Lanka; he lived in the Philippines and the USA before settling in England. Gunesekera's first collection of stories, Monkfish Moon (1992), was praised for its restrained, subtle prose. Set in Sri Lanka and in Britain, the stories explore, from a variety of perspectives, the violence, conflict, and strife prevalent in the author's native land, and the impact of ethnic and political mistrust on his characters' psyches. With his first novel, Reef (1994), Gunesekera established himself in the front rank of the singularly talented post-Rushdie generation of expatriate South Asian writers (which includes the Indians Amitav Ghosh, Sunetra Gupta, and Amit Chaudhuri, and the Pakistanis Aamer Hussein, Sara Suleri, and Nadeem Aslam). In Reef, which reads like a collection of stories linked by a single narrative perspective, Gunesekera employs the device of presenting complex political issues in a voice that grows from innocence to experience as the tale proceeds. Triton, a simple village boy, learns from his sympathetic master the ways of the world, witnesses the systematic dismemberment of his country, and finds himself and his destiny in exile in England. Though similar to his stories, the longer episodic form of Reef gives Gunesekera the opportunity to splice his account with metaphysical ruminations, and to display his gift for lyrical descriptions of landscape.