Bloomsbury publishes Booker-shortlisted Gunesekera’s new novel

Bloomsbury publishes Booker-shortlisted Gunesekera's new novel

NEW DELHI: Ceylon is on the brink of change. But Kairo is at a loose end. School is closed, the government is in disarray, the press is under threat and the religious rights are flexing their muscles.

Kairo’s hard-working mother blows off steam at her cha-cha-cha classes; his Trotskyite father grumbles over the state of the nation between his secret flutters on horse races in faraway England. All Kairo wants to do is hide in his room and flick over second-hand Westerns and superhero comics, or escape on his bicycle and daydream.

Then he meets the magnetic teenager Jay, and his whole world is turned inside out.

A budding naturalist and a born rebel, Jay keeps fish and traps birds for an aviary he is building in the garden of his grand home. The adults in Jay’s life have no say in what he does or where he goes: he holds his beautiful, fragile mother in contempt, and his wealthy father seems fuelled by anger. But his Uncle Elvin, suave and worldly, is his encourager.

As Jay guides him from the realm of make believe into one of hunting-guns and fast cars and introduces him to a girl – Niromi – Kairo begins to understand the price of privilege and embarks on a journey of devastating consequence.

Taut and luminous, graceful and wild, “Suncatcher” (Bloomsbury) by Booker-shortlisted Romesh Gunesekera is a poignant coming-of-age novel about difficult friendships and sudden awakenings. It mesmerizingly charts the loss of innocence and our recurring search for love – or consolation – bringing these extraordinary lives into our own.

Gunesekera is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction, including “Reef”, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, “The Sandglass”, winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award, and “The Match”, a ground-breaking cricket novel.

His debut collection of stories, “Monkfish Moon”, was a New York Times Notable Book. His last book, “Noontide Toll”, captured a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka. His fiction has been translated into over a dozen languages and he is the recipient of many awards, including Premio Mondello in Italy.

Gunesekera was born in Colombo and lives in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. IANS