Title : Ruins
Author : Rajith Savanadasa
ISBN : 9789351951216
Publisher : Hachette India
Genre : Contemporary
Pages : 341
Source : Publisher
Rating : 5 stars
Ruins is Rajith Savanadasa’s debut novel and for a debut he’s done an exceptionally good job. Ruins, is set against the backdrop of Sri Lanka, in the aftermath of its civil war. It is the story of an ordinary family wrestling with the ever changing needs and wants of each member in a culturally vulnerable society.
The entire story is beautifully narrated from the point of view of each character, which consists of a family servant, Latha, who is at the verge of transforming, an overly assertive husband, Mano, his Tamil born, fretful wife Lakshmi, a distressed teenage daughter, Anoushka and self-centered, angry son, Niranjan.
First off, I love that the author decided to narrate the story from various points of view of the five central characters. Through this, he is subtly prodding us readers to see that our initial impression or opinion of the characters may not have been entirely right. Every character paints a completely different picture of every other character and the story itself, making you feel differently about each character in every chapter. I think that was brilliant.
The family saga subtly reflects the issues, fortunes, misfortunes, uncertainties, cross-border relationships faced by them, in a society with conflicting political and cultural views, pulling together centuries of tradition, post-war trauma and poverty.
The story is also broadly based on the ancient ‘moonstone’ (loosely translated from Sandakada Pahana). It is an historic artifact which represents the cycle of rebirth. The moonstone features animals that represent four stages of life: Birth (elephant), decay (bull), disease (lion) and death (horse). Savanadasa also briefly discusses the Buddhist concept of ‘rebirth’.
The author has used a mix of various ‘Tamil’ and ‘Sinhalese’ words and expressions in his narration and has done it so cleverly so the readers can understand the meaning from the context. He has presented the war vaguely as a conflict between order and terrorism, Sinhalese and Tamil. The war hasn’t been exclusively discussed in the book but the author has skillfully portrayed the post-war trauma and the society through the five central characters’ cracked lives.
All in all, Ruins is a promising, outstanding and skillfully crafted masterpiece, with interesting setting and vivid characters. The narration is deeply-moving with a description so evocative; it is bound to transport you to the heart of Colombo.
A hearty thanks to Hachette India for sending the review copy to The Booktrack team.
Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.