“Perhaps it had to do with the fact that in crying for yourself you were acknowledging your vulnerability, acknowledging that despite your various efforts and postures you can be and have been hurt by the world.” pg. 151
Set in Sri Lanka twenty plus years into a civil war between the army and the country’s Tamil minority The Story of a Brief Marriage is a beautifully written book. The first couple of pages are devoted to a rather common bodily function but trust me stick it out or skim through those pages if you are somewhat squeamish like me and it will be well worth it.
The main character in the book is Dinesh an evacuee working and living in a refugee camp when he is confronted by an old man who proposes that Dinesh marry his daughter. When we first meet Dinesh it’s clear that he is a sensitive soul trying to find that balance between doing and feeling that a human being would need to navigate in order to survive under unimaginable circumstances. I found myself while re-reading the many moving passages found throughout the book wishing in vain for some type of deus ex machina. I practically held my breath during the last twenty pages. It was silly of me yes I know because the author set his intention very clearly with the title. But still I was rooting for him, for them, and probably in some small unconscious way for me. I’m not male and I have never been a casualty of war but throughout the 193 pages I felt like I was seeing Dinesh from the inside out. I felt his loss, his fears, his innocence, his grace, and his fleeting sense of something that closely resembled joy. Such was the pull of this book that when the end came I was right there with him. I can’t say much more without giving away the entire plot but suffice it to say this one will stay with me for a while.
This is the first work by Anuk Arudpragasm. The book jacket for The Story of a Brief Marriage has some glowing reviews but one that stood out to me because I agree with it completely was one from Laird Hunt who apparently wrote a book called Neverhome. He said, ” Read this novel. See what he has done.” To that I add please do.
If you’ve read this book I would love to hear what you thought.