Homesick by Roshi Fernando, Bloomsbury
I thoroughly recommend Homesick, a collection of interconnected short stories by Asian writer Roshi Fernando. Her voice is strong and engaging and the stories themselves, focusing on an extended Sri Lankan family in south London, are raucous, racy, moving, violent and eye-opening. Their tonal sweep is as broad as the political, social and emotional changes the community encounters over the decades.
As time moves on, we witness the Westernised, teenage Preethi’s growing pains and those of a community wanting to fit in. As Preethi gets older, questions of identity simply get harder. What never goes away is an undercurrent of casual racism.
Fernando explores the painful, humiliating and even violent, challenges of being an immigrant in the UK in the Sixties and Seventies and the political differences that can divide their offspring.
Cutting across generations and race, Fernando is fearless, and often very funny. Her vast cast of characters is vividly drawn and her subjects encompass everything from the eroticism of an unexpected kiss and the vagaries of marital love to a friendship forged during the 7/7 atrocities. Every story is underpinned by the question of what is means to belong, and how far that is measured by physical and cultural boundaries. “Here we are, in England,” laments a now middle-aged, vulnerable Preethi in ‘At the Funeral,’ “and we’re different, and there we are in Sri Lanka, and we’re different. Nowhere is home, nowhere!”
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