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NPR-All Things Considered: "In her moody, painterly depiction of the encounter turned love affair between a Sri Lankan novelist and his neighbor’s daughter, Tearne links her love story to national politics with a vengeance."

Date: Aug 26 2008

Melissa Block:

"Now we turn to a pair of new novels set in Asia. The Gift of Rain is the first novel by Tan Twan Eng set in his home country of Malaysia, and Mosquito by Roma Tearne takes place in Sri Lanka during the current civil war. Reviewer Alan Cheuse serves as our guide."

ALAN CHEUSE:
… Another look at this part of the world and another war comes in Mosquito, the fiction debut of painter Roma Tearne, a young woman born in Sri Lanka and raised in Britain. Sri Lankan nights, as Tearne depicts them, seem darker than dark. The rain in this novel comes down in torrents. And the civil war, one that still threatens to tear apart the writer’s home country, also threatens the main character’s soul.

In her moody, painterly depiction of the encounter turned love affair between a Sri Lankan novelist and his neighbor’s daughter, Tearne links her love story to national politics with a vengeance. And as the lovers grow closer despite the difference in their backgrounds and ages, mad revolutionary warriors and ideologues make plots that will eventually trump the best-laid plans of the innocent and destroy the worldly wise.

You feel the desire, the affection and the menace in these pages along with the rain and heat. Exotic, yes; both of these novels seem that way to a Western reader, and yet both carry us with a deep familiarity into war and the hot, worrisome weather of life.

Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He reviewed the novels “Mosquito” and “The Gift of Rain”.