A page turner

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By Priyangwada Perera

Whether or not the tech-savvy generation is moving away from physical books, we have no shortage of writers. Physical books are still being read. However, the Sri Lankan novel as a genre is not what it used to be. With the emergence of younger, newer writers who are far from interested in taking the traditional path, we have no lack of revolutionary literary experiences. Of late, almost all the books I read were ones drifting from that path we are more familiar with. Most of these are written by young, upcoming writers. After reading such books one after the other, coming across Thani Minisa was a welcome surprise. It was like walking into a world once loved but long forgotten. 

It is after a long time that I came across the lyrical start of a novel. It is both language and emotion. Most novels nowadays do not have that flow of emotion. Usually, they are full of endless dialogues. But in Thushari Abeysekara’s Thani Minisa, you are instantly charmed. You find yourself in a new environment. You feel the salty ocean in the air. You get a glimpse of this foreign looking man. The novelist is so crafty that by the second page, you fall for it headlong. 

In Thani Minisa, you find the language capturing you effortlessly. It is a welcome change from all these novels brimming with dialogues and sometimes nothing but dialogues. Reading Thani Minisa one recognises what one has been missing. Language, that lyrical language. Abeysekara writes her heart out. It is a fine blend of dialogues and descriptions. There is a fine plot running and the sub plots she handles flawlessly. There are certain English words that she could have been a little mindful about but all that aside, you marvel at her craft in writing. The characters you come across in the novel are unique. Right from the very beginning you realise this is going to be a different journey. 

Starting from Nicholas Grero, Poorna, Jumma, Beatrice to Maithali it has more than a handful of characters. The author deals with her characters with utmost care. She does not mess up, in spite of having more than a few to deal with. The best thing about this novel is how it sheds light on most of these individuals. It is not as if Abeysekara does not leave us space for imagination. She definitely does. Yet, she clearly does not want our imagination to run wild and free. She prepares the soil quite expertly for us to plant our seeds. In her fertilised soil of writing, we plant our seeds of imagination and what surprise is there but to find a very successful conclusion? 

Abeysekara handles quite a few subplots expertly. Sometimes in the middle you get a bit distracted since so much is happening. Many characters are introduced with their own rich story that they bring into the main plot. You tend to wonder whether all these will lead to a proper ending. But they actually do. There are quite a few sociological readings in the novel. Using a time span and social exploration into the mind-set of its characters, the author braves deep waters. She does not let it be a mere linear narrative which flows from one end to the other. But one thing is certain. You keep wanting to read on. I repeat, it may not give you those short term thrills which the contemporary novel has tuned us into expecting. 

But Thani Minisa will give you long lasting peace. It is that solitary treat you were looking for, in spite of being bombarded with mundane daily life. Do not mistake it for a serene, eventless tale told like a song. It is told like a song but you will get happily lost in its story. There is not a moment of monotony. You would not be able to guess what is in store. It is anything but a solitary man. Nevertheless, it is also a quest to find him.