Sometimes, when there is intense interest in a book at the time it is offered to publishing houses, we sit down to read it on an accelerated schedule. That is what happened with Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of a Thousand Mirrors, and the first time I read it all in one sitting, I was so wrapped up in it and fell for it so hard, I worried my intense experience was artificially magnified and therefore unrepresentative of the normal reader’s. When I reread the novel several months later, however, and cried once again, I knew that my original feelings had been true, and I found myself even more moved by the unforgettably lyrical language and profoundly astute explorations of pain, cultural identity, and love.
As a stunning and sweeping novel about two families on opposite sides of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Island of a Thousand Mirrors could be called a saga, but it also has the authentic intimacy of a memoir. What I found so amazing while reading was how Nayomi Munaweera immerses us so completely in a region torn apart by violence and hatred, a region which most of us know nothing about and will never visit, all through a generational tale that had me hanging on every twist and turn. In her hands, war is new, its pain felt over and over in the characters’ hopes, dreams, disappointments and fates.
Some of our best fiction puts a human face on conflict driven territories, and Island of a Thousand Mirrors adds to that canon in a special way. It has already been awarded the Commonwealth book prize for the Asian Region and was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize. And truly, even aside from all the acclaim it has garnered, Island of a thousand Mirrors is a deeply human tale, of the kind that never fails to touch its readers
I hope, when you read this novel, you will be as moved and inspired as I was.
St. Martin’s Press