Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this thoughtful, entrancing tale of a Sinhalese houseboy’s maturation takes place in the early s, in the edenic calm before. Reef by Romesh Gunesekera. cubicle light went out. Then, as the stars brightened, I remembered a bay-fronted house six thousand miles away.” — from Reef. Romesh Gunesekera’s Reef manages to align and illustrate these two congruent ideas. The staggering consequences of delicate shifts and subtle notions and.

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Return to Book Page. The house he worked in was so symbolic of all aspects of Sri Lankan life that it is almost impossib This is such a simple, yet compelling and beautiful tale.

Reef Summary & Study Guide

This book is really about waiting, about living fully in a world that will soon come to an end. Literature has always welcomed marginal characters with open arms. Through an earlier collection of short stories Monkfish Moon and his nomination this year on gunesekeera Booker Prize shortlist, Romesh Gunesekera is already at the crest of the wave of ex-colonial writers who have guneswkera Britain’s literary shores.

Aug 07, Ali rated it it was amazing. Gunesekera imbues his pages with the bite of chilies; the rich complexities of curry; the tartness of lime juice; and the subtle sweetness of coconut, and make one long for the taste of the succulent chicken curries and the exotic steamed parrot fish prepared by Guneesekera. Gunesekera claims that background knowledge of the political strife in Sri Lanka isn’t necessary to read and enjoy his novel. View all 15 comments. Later he turns the tables on Joseph, resulting in the obnoxious servant being fired by Mr Salgado.

Reef Summary & Study Guide

Jan 16, Dan Sherrell rated it it was amazing Shelves: The revolutionaries won the General Election by a landslide, and the socialites’ way of life changed drastically. The aristocratic young scientist, as Mr. And it feels labored, as if, doubting the inherent dramatic interest of Triton’s domestic life, the author were stretching for a Naipaul-esque relevancy to his story. Soon, gunewekera, his fortunes improve. Thanks for telling us about the problem. It is a personal story that parallels the larger movement of a country from a hopeful, young democracy to troubled island society.


He gunezekera traveled all over the earth. Through these characters and the forty years of political disintegration their country endures, Gunesekera tells the tragic, sometimes comic, story of a lost paradise and a young man coming to terms with his destiny. Triton is a quick study and a great observer of people.

Robert had caught her eye; he was smiling, his head shyly cocked to one side. Mister Salgado, Nili and their friends gunesfkera not a part of that group.

At first he is a houseboy on a staff of three, but before long, with his cool efficiency, he supplants the other two, becoming Mister Salgado’s cook and caretaker. True enough, the book’s ending about the separation of Salgado and Nila came to a conclusion with him deciding to reeef her again.

Talking together about their country and the war there makes the narrator start thinking of his life in Sri Lanka and of the gunesekeea that brought him to England as a refugee. Ranjan Salgado, a marine biologist obsessed by swamps, sea movements, and a Sri Lankan island’s disappearing reef.

What remains is a mostly uneventful story of a houseboy who becomes a talented cook. And in fact there are strong commonalities with Naipaul. We are also treated to some delightful gastroporn as the servant lovingly prepares meals.

Shortlisted for the Booker inthe book, through a charming and intimate narrative, offers a buffet of visual imagery and crafty metaphors.

Mister Salgado’s taciturn assistant Wijetunga reveals himself to be some sort of communist sympathiser in a very vague conversation that makes Triton shiver uncomfortably.


This is beautiful, sensual writing. Apr 22, Radhika added it. Triton, his cook and disciple, contemplates in this story not the ecosystems of the reef and shore that fascinate the man he serves, but Mister Salgado himself, his moods and needs, his relationships, and above all the food to be prepared for him. I read it in advance of going to Sri Lanka, and it was a great introduction.

The reader is left with the conclusion that one cannot really affect very much, but one can enrich his own and others lives through caring for them. Triton describes Joseph as deceitful, mean-spirited, and jealous of him. But in the continuum of Triton’s consciousness, as it is here narrated, Gunesekera fails to assign these exterior political events a believable place.

He is lucky, and the story ends happily this isn’t a spoiler because the tale opens with its ending — it’s told as memory because the personal, the emotional, is always paramount. Salgado, a marine biologist obsessed with swamps and seafood, that he is oblivious to the political unrest threatening his country. Like “Running in the Family,” Michael Ondaatje’s reminiscences of his Sri Lankan childhood, “Reef” is peopled with colorful, memorable characters.

The sensuous pleasures of cerebral activity he is Fanon’s colonized intellectual absorb Mister Salgado’s attention a little less as he falls in love with Miss Nili.

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. I watched him, I watched him unendingly, all the time, and learned to become what I am. But those twenty years in England are only briefly described: When old Lucy-amma, the cook-woman, retired, Triton took over all the cooking as well, and became an accomplished chef.

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