Author: Rajith Savanadasa
Publisher: Hachette (Aus)
Release Date: 28th June 2016
Genre: Adult Fiction
Date: 23rd June 2016
Source: ARC provided by Hachette Australia
Synopsis from GoodReads:
In the pent-up heat of Colombo, piece by piece, a family comes apart.
A stunning debut novel from a fresh voice in Australian fiction, for fans of Zadie Smith and Rohinton Mistry.
‘Ruins is a stirring and skilfully crafted debut, and Savanadasa’s characters are so vividly drawn they feel like family. With his sharp and masterful observations of race, class and gender in the “new” Sri Lanka, Savanadasa takes his seat beside Omar Musa,Alice Pung and Michael Mohammed Ahmad to usher in the brave and stunning new dawn of diverse Australian fiction.’ Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil
A country picking up the pieces, a family among the ruins…
In the restless streets, crowded waiting rooms and glittering nightclubs of Colombo, five family members find their bonds stretched to breaking point in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war.
Latha wants a home. Anoushka wants an iPod.
Mano hopes to win his wife back.
Lakshmi dreams of rescuing a lost boy.
And Niranjan needs big money so he can leave them all behind.
As the five leave Colombo to travel to an ancient city, the generations collide and long-held prejudices surface. With one foot in the old way of life and one firmly in the new, this family can never be what it once was.
‘A rich and colourful story of family and country, its complexity revealed in layers . . . Only through the eyes of others can we begin to see a place.’ Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg and Nest.
I actually won a giveaway of this book, so thanks to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this. I typically don’t read adult fiction books, but as I’d heard it was a diverse story written by an Australian debut author, I had to give it a try.
Initially I felt a bit lost in the story, as some of the words were unusual compared to what I am used to. A few chapters in, however, I felt much more confident with the language and the pacing. The pacing of the book changes between perspectives, which reflects the thoughts and personality of each individual character, making the story feel incredibly realistic. There are five different perspectives in this book, and I felt that each character had a clear and distinct voice. Each of the five main characters showed a great deal of development, and I felt that this was an element of the novel that was very well done.
Throughout the book, many different themes are explored. The effects and aftershocks of war are discussed, as is the loss of one’s culture due to Westernisation. Class separation is shown through interactions between Latha, a housemaid, and her employers. The relationship between Anoushka and her parents presents some ideas about how women are treated in this society; in some ways they are still inferior to men and are expected to behave in a certain way. These themes are explored in depth, and help to widen the reader’s mind.
I felt it was well-written, with each sentence eliciting thoughts of a rich, diverse culture. The story flowed well, and had enough happening to keep me turning page after page. It wasn’t the fastest read, and the pacing was continually changing from chapter-to-chapter, but overall it worked, and enhanced the individual voices of the characters.
Overall I quite liked this book. Even though it wasn’t my favourite, it made some very good points about society, and about life, and has made me reflect on many things. It was thoughtful, unique, well-written and rich in characters, descriptive language and culture.