Cover image for Heaven's edge
Heaven's edge
Gunesekera, Romesh.
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Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
234 pages ; 22 cm
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Gunesekera's dazzling first novel, "Reef, " was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and The Guardian First Fiction Award. Now he delivers a spellbinding modern odyssey that "The Daily Telegraph" praises as "powerful--dense, cadenced, the images perfectly observed."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With his family gone and London holding nothing more for him, Marc is drawn to his ancestral homeland--an island reminiscent of the author's native Sri Lanka--where his grandfather was born and his father met and courted his mother and later died. But violence and repression have ravaged the once paradisiacal place, and Marc's visit is bleak until he meets Uva, who established an illegal farm after losing her parents and home in the conflict. With her he finds both happiness and danger; when her farm is attacked, he becomes an "unfortunate obstruction" to be tagged and impounded. Escaping during a riot, Marc takes flight with the erogenous Jaz and metalworker Kris on a search for Uva, ultimately having to face the lengths to which he will go to achieve love and safety. Booker Prize finalist Gunesekera writes lyrically and with feeling about a land like his own in this novel, which has elements of fable and magic realism and is particularly appropriate for literary collections. --Michele Leber

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set on an environmentally devastated tropical island that resembles his native Sri Lanka, Gunesekera's new novel follows a Londoner named Marc, who comes to the island to find his father but instead gets caught up in a passionate affair with an ecological activist. When he arrives at the country's only hotel, the run-down Palm Beach Inn, Marc encounters a scarred landscape nothing like the idyllic pictures painted by his grandfather Eldon, a native who moved to London in his youth. Marc's attempts to find his father, who disappeared here when Marc was a child, come to naught, but his lover, Uva, opens new doors as she teaches Marc about her efforts to continue farming against the wishes of the island's repressive regime. Government troops begin tracking Uva, and soon soldiers attack and destroy Uva's farm. Marc is imprisoned in a government compound but manages to escape. Once he tracks down Uva's erotically preoccupied bisexual friend, Jaz, and a metalworker named Kris who has pivotal ties to Uva's past, the three embark on a quest to find Uva. The search has moments of both breathtaking suspense-e.g., the trio rebuilds a damaged plane to escape pursuing soldiers-and quiet introspection, as Marc reflects on his ambivalence toward this land. The novel's structure is a bit cliched, but there's a spark in Gunesekera's writing that gives his characters life; the affair between Marc and Una is especially rich and subtle. Gunesekera has explored these cultures and themes in his earlier books, notably Reef, which was shortlisted for the Booker, but the compelling romance makes this one of his best efforts. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In an almost epic quest to discover and understand both his homeland and himself, Marc returns from England to the unnamed tropical island from whence his family came. He feels displaced and dissatisfied until he meets Uva, an environmental activist who offers him color and enlightenment-but at a terrible price. For through his relationship with her, he is lured into the subversive underworld of those who dare to challenge the authority of the island's warlords. Much of this book describes the terrible dichotomy of a place, based on the author's native Sri Lanka, that in its natural beauty is truly at the edge of heaven yet in its political and social strife teeters on the edge of hell. Gunesekera, whose first novel, Reef, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, writes in a lyrical and evocative style, but the violence that ensnares his characters seems to despoil the beauty of the prose. While the intent may be to shock the reader from complacency, it creates a pacing challenge: this is an adventure story containing kernels of truth that, if developed differently and with the writer's obvious talent with words, could have resulted in a deeper novel. As such, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Recommended only where demand warrants purchase.-Caroline Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.