Reef

Romesh Gunesekera, Author New Press $20 (192p) ISBN 978-1-56584-219-9
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this thoughtful, entrancing tale of a Sinhalese houseboy's maturation takes place in the early 1980s, in the edenic calm before Sri Lanka erupts in violence. Marine biology and native cuisine become metaphors for political and personal change as Gunesekera chronicles the story of Triton, who is 11 years old in 1962, his father an alcoholic, his mother dead, when he comes to the estate of aristocratic bachelor Ranjan Salgado. At first, Triton does odd chores for the houseman and cook, but gradually the clever lad learns all the workings of the household, and he eventually emerges as Salgado's only servant-in the process becoming a skillful and creative cook. Salgado himself is a lonely academic, fascinated with marine life and the evolution of the sea. Triton takes care of his master with an almost parental love, all the while learning about the world from Salgado's conversations and his many books. Ultimately, Triton finds himself living on his own in London, an independent restaurateur, wistfully remembering his homeland in happier times. Gunesekera (Moonfish Moon) brings a moving combination of innocence and wisdom to Triton's first-person narration. His spare, lyrical prose evokes the sensuous heat of the tropical island and conveys mouthwatering descriptions of Triton's many culinary triumphs. And his take on the synergies of politics, nature and personal striving is subtle and intriguing. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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FORMATS
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-57322-533-5
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-86207-094-3
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-1-78378-030-3
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