Monday, May 11, 2020

Memories of the Sri Lanka Civil War - Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy

´Do you know how heavy a leaf is, when it carries the weight of the sun?´
Displacement, alienation, fractured time...Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy explores through ten short stories the feelings and experiences of families originary from Sri Lanka living in America in the aftermath of the Civil War. 
The characters are recurrent and their destinies are intertwinned, with the stories of the new comers radiating around the old ones. Some are concealing in other people´ stories or finding themselves in stories told slowly, in the humming sound of a prayer. 
The stories are short, descriptive, with a simple structure, that accounts life episodes connecting the past to the present. War trauma meets the desire to overcome the immigrant status and integrate into the new society. There are stories told openly, with full honesty and without any trace of drama. Subtle irony - as a main feature of the destiny itself, especially the immigrant´s destiny- is what adds a layer of detachment to the collection.
My favorite story so far is The Office of Missing Persons as it reveals both the complexity of the post-war Sri Lankan society as well as the ambiguity of life: sometimes a joke, sometimes a drama.
The brevity of the stories can also operate against the story itself. More than once I wanted a continuation of the episode or was just frustrated that my curiosity was aroused and then punished as the ending was abruptly. 
Half Gods is the debut book of Akil Kumarasamy therefore I would love to read the author´s next work, maybe a novel where I would eventually encounter some of the characters and/or at least topics sketched in the short stories. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

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