I don’t do book reviews, I don’t know how to do them, but as I read this book, all I knew for sure, was that I had to share what I thought about this book.
The Sweet and Simple Kind, A novel of Sr Lanka by Yasmine Gooneratne. I picked it up because the synopsis looked interesting, never for a moment, imagining that it would blow me away.
It traces the life of 2 cousins, who form a close friendship, through the vacations that the spend together. As their lives evolve, the author also, manages to paint a wonderful picture of Sri Lankan society and politics during that time. The two cousins, Latha and Tsunami Wijesinha, are of the same age, with just three months between them.
Tsunami Wijensinha’s family is the more affluent, more westernised family(in some ways, more British than the British themselves) and her mother is an Indian Tamil. Latha’s family is not as well off, and her mother is extremely strong in her views about Sinhalese values, which she feels that Tsunami’s family does not give enough importance to. As Latha is growing up, she finds a wonderful feeling of freedom in Tsunami’s house that she never finds in her own, only to find much later, that it is all reversed. Her, once rigid, family becomes a sanctuary for both her and her cousin.
The books traces there lives, the turbulence in their personal lives as well as their societies as they try to over come an embarrassing family scandal and go on to university together. How they react and behave when confronted by racial and caste discrimination. People changing, slowly but surely. The book just reminds me of issues, that face probably, every society. How some of the westernised folk look down on Sinhalese speakers, how Tamils and other minorities are not treated as equals.. and how it all erupts, finally.. It mirrors society everywhere so well. And it also brings home the fact that intolerance and racial chauvinism can only be detrimental in the long run.
The characters are drawn up so well, and emotions, so beautifully conveyed. I almost cried when the book ended.. If there is any book that I have absolutely loved, in recent times, this is it! And best of all, I got a feel of Sri Lanka, the country. The issues that it had to face as it evolved from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. One thing I know for sure is, I am going to re-read it now.. and that I need to find her other books to devour.