Blurb: Eddie Trusted, an English school teacher in Colombo, wants to spend his life with Menaka Rupasinghe, a vibrant Sri Lankan beauty, but as with all matters of the heart, there’s an obstacle. If Eddie wants to wed Menaka, it is Thilak Rupasinghe, her orthodox terror of a father, whom he must woo and whose farts he must kiss – Thilak wants his daughter to marry someone of the same race, religion and caste, and if possible from the same locality. In a desperate bid to make his dream a reality, Eddie tries to connect with Thilak in other ways – eating curries that make him bleed spice and breathe fire, driving drunk through red lights, threatening co- workers with violence, and sleeping with snakes. But will Eddie ever be good enough for a man who hates the colour of his skin? Sparkling with wit and featuring an endearing cast of characters,The Amazing Racist is the story of a man who finds a home among strangers, of a father-in-law whose bark is worse than his bite, and of bonds that grow to be stronger than family ties.’
About the author: Half English, half Tibetan, Chhimi Tenduf-La grew up in Hong Kong, London, Delhi and Colombo, where he now lives with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Tara. The Amazing Racist is his first novel. His second novel, Panther, will be released by HarperCollins India in July 2015.
Review: I am glad to have received this book for a read and review. Chhimi Tenduf-La has written a wonderful novel. Initially, the story struck me as being a boring family drama, but as I progressed into reading the next part my view on the book changed instantly. The story gripped me. The relationship between Eddie and his father-in-law, Thilak Rupasinghe, developed because of their common love for Eddie’s daughter, Kiki. We first encounter Thilak issuing a laundry list of instructions to his son. “Don’t enter a girl’s room. Don’t speak to strangers. Don’t drag your feet when you walk. Don’t cross the railway line. Don’t wear short shorts. Don’t jump into a boat. Don’t go in anyone else’s car. Don’t even look at a motorcycle.”
I am not writing anything more on the plot, I suggest you to read it to know it. Although the tale is narrated by Eddie it is Thilak Rupasinghe whose personality leads a chunk of the novel. The bonding between both the men happens gradually that it really worthy and touching. The book completely transported me to modern day Sri Lanka, giving me a feel of being in that country. It had some really funny shares too. It is well written and has a unique take at racism. I found myself happy and said in equal measures and I should appreciate that the author really got a sense which has a deep affinity and grasp of all things local in the story. It is brilliant and moving narrative of everything being in Sri Lanka. The last sentence of the book is a stunner. I liked the manner in which author described the disappointment and slapstick found daily, which strikes link with anyone who has travelled to Sri Lanka. The characters are so real they jump off the page; anyone would like Thilak Rupasinghe as mean, egotistical, loving and munificent father in law.
“The four men sat in a circle around a potted tree that dropped araliya flowers at their leathery feet. Around them, coconut shells dipped in kerosene burnt light and mystery into proceedings. Each of the men, Gehan included, wore cologne so strong that the aroma battled with that of the dried fish, chilli and onions being fried downstairs. The sparkle of fireflies got lost in the collection of thick gold chains, watches and bracelets on display” – one such passage that takes great pleasure in admiring the style of writing with concentration and looking around carefully, all the segments.
The book is not only about reverse racism against the whites, but also highlights the divide between Sinhalese and Tamil in Sri Lanka. The narrative has the backdrop of Sri Lanka, and its sounds, smells and sights, and the accented English. To me this book is in the same league of “The God of Small Things” and “Shantaram” – the first novels those were iconic. The Amazing Racist is an amazing read. Thank you Chhimi for writing this. I am recommending it to friends and acquaintances as a must read. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of Tenduf-La’s work, and can’t wait for his next novel to be published.
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