x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Homesick: the Sri Lankan immigrant experience

In Homesick , Roshi Fernando considers the question of identity, both displaced and misplaced, in her exporation of the Sri Lankan immigrant experience in Britain.

Homesick
Roshi Fernando
Bloomsbury
Dh78
Homesick Roshi Fernando Bloomsbury Dh78

The Sri Lankan-British author Roshi Fernando lists the 2009 Impress Prize for New Writers and an inclusion on the shortlist for the 2011 Sunday Times Short Story Award among her accolades, and both achievements suggest Homesick will still further garnish her reputation.

As with most writers who tackle the immigrant experience - in this case it is Sri Lankans migrating to Britain - Fernando considers the question of identity, both displaced and misplaced. She does this through a series of interlocking short stories that follow a clutch of tumultuous characters: Fernando shows us Victor and Nandini, a Sri Lankan couple clinging to memories of their war-torn homeland, and their children, Rohan, Preethi, and Gehan, who attempt to break through the racial barriers separating them from homes they dream of escaping to.

If there's anything to distinguish Homesick from other novels featuring the same themes, it's Fernando's refreshing lack of sentimentality in her storytelling. The 1984 London of her vision is a harsh landscape and one that is marred by potholes where abandoned identities lie, awaiting rebirth. Her characters stumble more often than not, but lessons are there to be learnt, painful as they are.

* Noori Passela