I chose the read this book because I loved the cover and because a few decades ago I knew a young man from Sri Lanka, and that is still the extent of what I know of Sri Lanka. I enjoyed this book very much. Situated on the verge of modernisation, Chamalee Weeratunge’s stories capture an image of a timeless, traditional Sri Lankan village in the decades just before modern technologies seeped in. This theme of tradition and change is presented subtly as just an underlying thread supporting tales of everyday life, including foods, plants, wild and domesticated animals, and many other aspects of Weeratunge’s childhood that present a picture of Sri Lanka no tourist there could ever see.
My only complaint with this book- I wish there were illustrations or photographs of the festivals, foods, fruits and flowers Weeratunge introduces in her stories. However, being a modern reader, I did make use of Pinterest to put together a pinboard of images that helped me visualize the lushly green, fascinating world of Sri Lanka as I was reading Weeratunge’s excellent stories. The world she describes is not the flashy one tourists get to see, exactly, so not all of what Weeratunge describes is as likely to turn up on Pinterest, and as her book points out, Sri Lanka has been changing and much of the world of her childhood is gone now, replaced by new traditions, attractions and challenges.
The Elephant Gates comes out August 25th, 2014. If you are looking for a great armchair travel adventure, or just a lovely memoir about life, tradition and change, you might really like this book.