Monday, November 5, 2007


I bought this collection of short stories by Romesh Gunesekera after I read his book Reef earlier this year. I enjoyed it, sort of a Half of a Yellow Sun light, but set in Sri Lanka instead of Nigeria.

Gunesekera is from Sri Lanka and his stories describe the immigrant dilemma - living in a new place but remembering the old country, trying to assimilate and yet maintaining old traditions. The short story Storm Petrel, has the narrator meeting CK, and old mate from Sri Lanka. CK has just returned from a visit and is marvelling at the changes, and planning for a new life back home. The narrator listens to his tale and inserts comments, both aloud and internally.

I had to look up storm petrel, to understand the significance of the title. It's a little seabird, colonial nesters, displaying strong philopatry to their natal colonies and nesting sites. I don't usually like having to look up information to understand what I read, but I'll do it for Short Story Monday. In this case, it makes sense, the immigrant wanting to return home.

Although the characters and setting are London and Sri Lanka, it reminded me of the Maritimes, and the people who leave, but always have in their mind that they will return. They will have made tons of money, tons for what you need to live here, they'll come home to this imagined place in their memory. But it does change, and so have they. It isn't the place they remember. They want to return to an idyllic life, simple, like they remember the life they left. But what makes it appealing to come to is that the life has changed and progressed. So it can't be the way they remember.

So welcome to short story Monday; leave a comment, tell us what you've read. I'm hosting this week, and if you are interested in hosting, let john mutford or my know, we don't mind sharing! The more the merrier, and all that.


  1. I love it when unexpected parallels pop-ip. Who would expect to find similarities between Sri Lankans and Maritimers? That's the great thing about literature isn't it?

    My post is here.

  2. "Pop-ip" is the new, hip way of saying "pop-up" and has nothing to do with "I" being near the "U" on my keyboard.

  3. I've got a blurb about a book of short stories by Roberto Bolano on my blog here.

  4. I'm excited about the number of Sri Lankan based stories I have been coming across lately I love reading about Sri Lanka, since I have so many friends, and former clients, from there, and I cook Sri Lankan food a lot. Thanks for the review, it's definitely found its way on to my TBR list!


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