It's not necessary to read these books to visit or participate in the FGLF, but they're useful if you want to really immerse yourself in the talks and events. We've collected four great local books (in no particular order) that will be featured this year in talks, meals, or other events. Each of them weaves a journey that keeps Sri Lanka at the heart of their narratives, either in setting or sentiment.
All of them are available at the Barefoot bookshop or at the festival shop itself.
1. A Long Watch – Sunila Galappatti
A somber narrative by former GLF Director, A Long Watch delves into the very real story of Commodore Boyagoda, who was the highest-ranking prisoner of war captured by the LTTE. The book is a must-read for anyone invested in learning about (and learning from) Sri Lanka's marred last few decades from a "subtle and intimate" perspective.
2. The Story of a Brief Marriage – Anuk Arudpragasam
We haven't got our paws on this tiny tome yet, but plan to do so soon. It's set during Sri Lanka's period of civil strife, revolving around a young man and his arranged marriage, and the intimacy this introduces, in a period and area of horror. It seems small enough to finish on the chugging train ride from Fort to Galle, but potentially heavy enough for us to head straight to the Galle Fort Hotel for a stiff drink upon arrival.
3. The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons – Ashok Ferrey
We're somewhere in the middle of the latest Ferrey, eagerly awaiting the riverbank of denouement on the other end. This 2016 release is a funny but slightly bitter novel that explores the eternal raging battles of Good, Bad, and Evil on different cultural planes. We're not sure how it ends, but this is probably our favourite Ferrey ride so far. And also, a blissfully non-war, non-harrowing read.
4. Island of a Thousand Mirrors – Nayomi Munaweera
Munaweera's second novel, What Lies Between Us, has stirred up the literati worldwide with a look at what's termed the "multigenerational immigrant experience".
Foreign Writers & Special Mentions
- I Am Malala – Christina Lamb
- Lamb's look at the life and world of young Malala is a celebration of this girl, her resilience, and resourcefulness in the face of hatred and horror. It's also a global best-seller.
- Tea Planter's Wife – Dinah Jeffries
- We included this because it's world famous and set in Sri Lanka (well, Ceylon). It's easy-to-read mom lit, with plenty of heavy breathing, secret pregnancies, rippling muscles, crying, and more secrets.
- The Shiva Trilogy – Amish Tripathi
- This is apparently the fastest-selling fiction series in India. With compelling stories of "the man behind the God", and a fast-moving narrative, we see why.
- Chinaman – Shehan Karunatilaka
- Okay, this isn't a new novel by any means, but it's always a hilarious and insightful look into Sri Lanka and its nuances, arrack, and cricket. Plus you'll probably meet Shehan K doing talks at the festival, so it's as good a time as any.
- The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon – Parinavo Kerosh
- If you're enthralled by the Galle Dutch Fort and want to know more about its history, this Portuguese author delves pretty deep. It's an intense and interesting read.