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By Nayomi Munaweera Island of a Thousand…
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By Nayomi Munaweera Island of a Thousand Mirrors: A Novel (1st First… (edition 2014)

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1911791,249 (4.04)1 / 23
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Title:By Nayomi Munaweera Island of a Thousand Mirrors: A Novel (1st First Edition) [Hardcover]
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Info:St. Martin's Press (2014)
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Island of a Thousand Mirrors: A Novel by Nayomi Munaweera

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Surprised this has such high ratings. I had come across the author Nayomi Munaweera via another book of hers but this sounded interesting. Two families eventually come together in a tragedy during the civil war in Sri Lanka. The book follows two girls and eventually women as they grow up in the shadow of conflict in Sri Lanka. One eventually flees the country and goes back to the United States. Another stays but is irrevocably changed after being sexually assaulted by soldiers and is cast out of her family. The choices the characters make ends in a horrible, violent end for some leaving the survivors to best pick up the pieces and go on.
 
Or something like that. The book splits between two characters (I can't stand this device!) and one is infinitely more interesting and better-developed than the other. Many of the other criticisms also hold too: there are too many characters and even with the help of the family tree in the front of my book I didn't find it very helpful or interesting telling people apart or their relationships with each other. The civil war is in the background but it's somewhat difficult to understand what it is that we're supposed to care about or why this is important.
 
Also, I personally found the writing to be very frustrating. It was skimmable but not particularly engrossing. Time flows forward but I found it interesting that one character seems to adjust (mostly) after fleeing Sri Lanka without much emotional upheaval or development. For some reason that comes later in the form of a silly plot device of an unfaithful spouse and a decision to return to Sri Lanka. And as mentioned another character is raped but I didn't quite understand her drive to become a soldier other than being cast out by her family. I didn't feel much sense of sadness after reading how she stuffs a gun into a soldier's mouth and pulls the trigger without much feeling behind it.
 
Overall I'd say there was some great potential but it wasn't something that would drive me to read any more of the author's work. This was her first book but the other I've read by Munaweera 'What Lies Between Us' also wasn't exactly a page-turner for me either.
 
It's too bad because I'm not sure if I've read much by any other Sri Lankan author but I guess this just wasn't for me. Borrow from the library if you're really interested but I wouldn't rush out to read either this or 'Between'. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
If you're wondering how someone could possibly become a terrorist, this would be the book for you. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
If you're wondering how someone could possibly become a terrorist, this would be the book for you. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
If you're wondering how someone could possibly become a terrorist, this would be the book for you. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
This book is set in beautiful Sri Lanka which is in the throes of a Civil War - between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. Civil war does not even begin to describe the horrors that this tiny nation faced. It is the description of the travails of ordinary people and ordinary families that portrays the true nature of the tragedy. The author has described the scenario perfectly and captured the essence of the South Asian habits for example when one of the characters says, "It is only in absence that the true weight of love is felt" - a character who is describing an arranged marriage! A well-written book which is a must read. ( )
  Writermala | Sep 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
It's hard to comprehend the toll Sri Lanka's civil war took on the South Asian country. The United Nations estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 people lost their lives in the conflict — all on an island just slightly larger than West Virginia.

Ethnic tensions between two main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka — the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils — simmered through the '60s and '70s. The civil war officially began in 1983 and continued until 2009
 
In one of the many startling scenes in “Island of a Thousand Mirrors,” Nayomi Munaweera’s first novel, a Sri Lankan girl riding the train to school is suddenly surrounded by a machete-wielding mob, who demand proof she isn’t Tamil. In her panic, she recites the Buddhist sutras “preaching unattachment, impermanence, the inevitability of death,” an unholy trinity that could apply to all civil wars. ... Still, Saraswathi’s voice never rings true; her experiences are heart-rending, but they seem to smother any glimpse of what distinguishes her from other girls weaponized by the Tamil Tigers.
 
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amazon ca :Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents' ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara's family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara's life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl's…

Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict that she has tried so hard to avoid – a conflict that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways.

Nayomi Munaweera's Island of a Thousand Mirrors is an emotionally resonant saga of cultural heritage, heartbreaking conflict and deep family bonds. Narrated in two unforgettably authentic voices and spanning the entirety of the decades-long civil war, it offers an unparalleled portrait of a beautiful land during its most difficult moment by a spellbinding new literary talent who promises tremendous things to come.
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"Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents' ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara's family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara's life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl's... Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict that she has tried so hard to avoid - a conflict that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways. In the tradition of Michael Ondatjee's Anil's Ghost and Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, Island of a Thousand Mirrors is an emotionally resonant saga of cultural heritage, heartbreaking conflict and deep family bonds. Narrated in two unforgettably authentic voices and spanning the entirety of the decades-long civil war, it offers an unparalleled portrait of a beautiful land during its most difficult moment by a spellbinding new literary talent who promises tremendous things to come"--… (more)

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