29 July, 2021

Wasted Lure

Glimmers with promise at its dramatic opening. But then maudlin exile moments drip and drop into a deepening sea of syrup. Till we are too exhausted to care.

Wasted Lure
Bone China glimmers with promise at its dramatic opening. Aloysius is telling his wife Grace that he has just gambled away her mansion. They must abandon their tea-smelling hills and move with their five children and fine crockery to Colombo’s political and tropical heat.

In the city, the sea sighs, bombs explode, relatives visit, Schubert is played. Violence makes all fragile, giving celebrations a manic edge, and secret lives are lived in crowded families. Grace’s adultery, her evil cousin’s machinations, and the antics of Jasper the omniscient mynah create a nicely bubbling broth. Music anchors the plot and sometimes, single evocative images capture great events.

But the civil war intensifies, killing several characters and driving others to Britain. If only Big Political Questions weren’t thought indispensable for the ‘serious’ post-colonial novel! As family and country unravel, so does the book. The migrant’s disillusionment and isolation, portrayed so memorably in (for example) J.M. Coetzee’s Youth,...

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