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The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk…
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The Story of a Brief Marriage

by Anuk Arudpragasam

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This is a compelling storyline and there are some beautiful sentences here, but I did not enjoy the writing overall. I felt that there was too much exposition. The story was too close to the character, almost like a stream of consciousness narrative. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Very well-written with a keen attention to detail. Everyday activities that many take for granted, including personal hygiene and grooming, as well as various injuries, settings, and feelings, are precisely documented. The subject of the refugee camp during a tumultuous time in Sri Lanka is heavy material, but the author never lets the book get too depressing. There were a few times towards the end of the book where my flow in the reading was disrupted due to extremely long sentences that I had to read and reread a few times, but other than that, I really enjoyed this book. ( )
  JaxlynLeigh | Jul 20, 2018 |
Recently I saw a quote by Virginia Woolf, from A Room of One's Own, about novels with integrity, and I realised it could also work as an accurate description of this book. This book affords its characters, especially the main character Dinesh through whom we see this war-ravaged slice of world, dignity. I think there is an ethics to this careful, precise, philosophical writing. That anyone who writes like this must consistently value the moral in process of creation and the responsibility that comes with it. I realise this is a slippery slope, to attribute some quality to the author of these words as though the author and the words are one. I remind myself that all art is artifice and language, especially when artfully constructed, can deceive us. But I also want to believe in the conscience at work behind truthful writing. Otherwise, what is the point of writing and reading?

A longer piece that I wrote for Pop Matters is available here. ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
Did I read the same book as other people did? I was intrigued by this story of a young man who is a casualty of Sri Lanka's civil war. Permanently scarred physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. Dinesh is numb to the violence and chaos around him. At the camp where he is currently housed, an older man approaches Dinesh with the proposal to marry his daughter, Ganga. It is a flimsy form of protection, but it may prevent them from going off to fight for the rebels and it may spare them from the oncoming army. The book tells their story.
 
Or something like that. The reviews are quite good and the book has a high rating. But I thought it was really awful. I have no idea why people called the writing beautiful or moving or poignant, etc. It's a very slow book where the author can take pages and pages to describe a single event. It starts off quite brutally with a description of an amputation.
 
I suppose the author was trying to capture what life can be like for a refugee fleeing unspeakable horror and suffering from ailments that affect "normal" day-to-day functions but I just didn't get it. If anything, I almost felt the author had less to say and was stretching out the text by not really saying anything with far too many words. 
 
I really didn't think much of this as you can probably see, although the author grasped me enough to make me wonder how Dinesh's and Ganga's story ends. Won't spoil it but if you've read the descriptions you probably wouldn't be too surprised that it's not a happy book nor do we have happy endings. 
 
I was disappointed because I had been so looking forward to it but clearly this isn't a book for me. Others seemed to really like it though so maybe it was just a matter of fit. Bought as a bargain book but wish I could have borrowed from the library instead. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
It took a while for me to recover after coming to the devastating end of this extraordinary short novel. I knew what was coming – it is called The Story of a Brief Marriage after all – and from the very first pages when Dinesh, a Sri Lankan evacuee during the Sri Lankan civil war, moves across a blasted landscape with a gravely injured child in his arms, I knew this story could not end well. But it is so exquisitely crafted, and the character of Dinesh so powerfully wrought, that the reader comes to share his tentative hopes.
Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, The Story of a Brief Marriage is Anuk Arudpragasam’s first novel. It tells the story of how Dinesh, over the course of a day and a night, moves from a state of numb acceptance of having lost everything, to a hesitant awakening. The story begins in a refugee camp, one of many which has formed as the civilians try to flee being caught between government forces and what is always referred to as ‘the movement’, which I take to mean the Tamil Tigers. As the conflict draws in, the refugees are crushed towards the coast, and although Dinesh seems not much more than a boy, there is a constant risk that – if he isn’t killed by the shelling – as an able-bodied male he will be captured and enlisted to fight for the movement.
‘Able-bodied’ is a relative term. He has not slept for days, and he has not eaten. He shed no tears when his mother was killed. But he is strong enough in body to help with bringing the injured to what little help is available. This is the confronting first paragraph, indicative of pages that made me put the book aside sometimes, to walk outside in the garden to hear the carefree laughter of the children next door:
Most children have two whole legs and two whole arms but this little six-year-old that Dinesh was carrying had already lost one leg, the right one from the lower thigh down, and was now about to lose his right arm. Shrapnel had dissolved his hand and forearm into a soft, formless mass, spilling to the ground from some parts, congealing in others, and charred everywhere else. Three of the fingers had been fully detached, where they were now it was impossible to tell, and the two remaining still, the index finger and thumb, were dangling from the hand by very slender threads. They swayed uncertainly in the air, tapping each other quietly, till arriving at last in the operating area Dinesh knelt to the ground, and laid the boy out carefully on an empty tarpaulin. His chest, it seemed, was hardly moving. His eyes were closed, and his face was calm, unknowing. That he was not in the best of conditions there could be no doubt, but all that mattered for the time being was that the boy was safe. Soon the doctor would arrive and the operation would be done, and in no time at all the arm would be as nicely healed as the already amputated thigh. (p.1)
(I could not read this book at night at all. I read Rod Usher’s light-hearted Poor Man’s Wealth instead. More about that later).
It is in this calm, detached tone, that Arudpragasam relates a story that most of us cannot possibly imagine, even though we see images from war zones on our TV screens all the time. As the shelling of the camp continues, an old man approaches Dinesh, asking if he will consent to marry his daughter Ganga.
To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/01/18/the-story-of-a-brief-marriage-by-anuk-arudpr... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jan 18, 2018 |
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"Very seldom in a reading life does a novel alter your sense not only of literature but of the world. This extraordinary debut is of that class." --Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You In the last months of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Dinesh's world has contracted to an evacuee camp, where he measures his days by shells that fall like clockwork. Alienated from language, home, and family, he is brought back to life by an unexpected proposal from an old man in the camp: that he marry his daughter, Ganga. In the hours they spend together, Dinesh and Ganga attempt to awaken to one another, to reclaim their humanity. Anuk Arudpragasam's The Story of a Brief Marriage is a feat of stunning imaginative empathy, a meditation on the bare elements of human existence that give life its pulse and purpose, even in the face of atrocity"--… (more)

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