Book Under Wraps
By Priyangwada Perera
“Most people’s first books are their best anyways. It’s the one they wanted most to write,” says Jospehine Tey, author of The Daughter of Time. In terms of author Surath De Mel, we are just a wee bit too early. December is when his second is due. His debut novel Thi Ha Tha won him accolades, brought two awards, and created a fan base that fell a little short of insanity.
Its copies got sold like hot cakes. It was in the bestseller list for two years. However, unlike Karunasena Jayalath who wrote Lassana Es in mere weeks, still elated at the success Golu Hadavatha brought him, De Mel has waited for more than two years.
But the wait is over. December marks the entrance of his second novel, See+. A pre-launch article can do only just a little, especially when I have not read the novel. So, the only option is to get the author to do the needful. When the author is someone who prefers to write and watch, this is no easy task. When asked whether writing the second novel was more challenging after the successful run of the first, De Mel said he started writing the second novel even before the first came out in print.
“There was no pressure, there was nothing to live up to expectations,” De Mel affirmed. Not many would disagree if we were to say De Mel’s writing became a brand. At least, readers are most likely to associate De Mel with a certain kind of writing. Raw, honest, shameless in disclosing the hushed topics and exposing ideologies, knowingly or not the De Mel icon was launched. “I do not know about being an icon.
But if I did become one, it is simply a matter of maintaining being an icon. Be it my second book or the 20th I will have to focus on maintaining the quality of writing. The challenge is to be consistent in the excellence that being an icon stands for,” a man of few words in conversation, the author’s replies were quite brief and to the point. De Mel would not disclose anything about the new novel. Its name, See+ itself can be ambiguous and create a certain sense of mystery. Mere days away from its release, would he not give us a sneak peak to See+? He is firmly under the impression that giving a clue is irrelevant.
“What is the point? It is a novel and you have to read and find out. A teaser can never give you an adequate enough glimpse to use your yardstick.” De Mel was not ready to part with his well guarded secret as yet. As much as we focus on all those who praised De Mel and gave positive feedback on Thi Ha Thaa, we cannot forget the very obvious harsh criticism hurled at both the novel and the writer at least on and off. What if they say, De Mel is nothing but a ‘passing infatuation’ or a ‘one-time-sensation,’ we could not help but ask the author.
If you can, picture his amusement when he replied, “What can I do if they say such a thing? They can say whatever they feel like. The only place I can influence or impact a reader is inside my book, in the context of my book. A reader has all the freedom to feel the way they do. Once the book is in their hands, it is theirs. Whatever they say about the text is not for me to question or even answer. It is out of my grasp,” he concluded.
See+ is most definitely out of his grasp now. In no time, it will reach the reader. Instead of the treat it was hoping to be in the Literary Month, See+ will unwrap as an early Christmas gift. I would not have to tell you to not be dissuaded by an almost melancholic author. His job is done and in typical Surath De Mel style, he is waiting for the book to be unveiled. To be the spectator as his readers discover a new version of a writer in him. Even more than that, perhaps waiting to see the readers discover themselves in his story yet again. To praise him or thrash him, See+ is too tempting to miss.