Reader’s book recommendations for a writer – part last


This is the last book recommendation post for Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. It’s under three minutes of reading time. So you have more time to read these books. Or the first and second posts of book recommendations.

Why bother with all this?

These posts are not guerrilla marketing. I’m not a fan boy. Just someone whose been reading Yudhanjaya’s writings from the time he was a mere blogger. He was always more than that. He’s a *serious" writer because

  1. he has interesting things to say
  2. he says it well
  3. he’s putting in the time and the work to be a professional fiction writer in Sri Lanka

The last point is important. Writing fiction in any language in Sri Lanka is not a profession. At best an activity of talented people with day jobs. Yudhanjaya (correct me if I’m wrong) approaches fiction writing as a profession. Not just in the art and craft of writing. But also as an economic activity requiring a disciplined focused approach. Right down to the gritty of digital publishing.

He’s also managed a rare feat. Getting a global audience for Sri Lankan writing. He’s injected elements of Sri Lanka into a work of Science Fiction without making a big show of it. That’s just a start. So my book recommendation posts are irrelevant. Other than to say watch this guy. Even if you are not on Rohan Wijeratne’s legal team ;). He’s writing stuff you’ll want to read.

My book recommendations:

Noon Tide Toll by Romesh Gunasekara

From a writer’s perspective, this book is a manual on an essential of Sri Lankan conversation: communicating the unsaid without saying anything. It’s hard to unpack Romesh Gunasekara’s word sorcery. From what I can see, he does something that gives you realisations about the unspoken. About the things his characters are trying to ignore by showing:

  • what they are not saying
  • What they are avoid trying to say/think about

Sequences of choreographed detail is the obvious ingredient in pulling this off. The weight of history on places and people is another. The sparse writing has lots of hooks for the reader to hang vivid visualisations.

Of the rest, I’m not sure. You have to analyse the text as a writer. Not as a reader. I’m no writer. That should be obvious by now.

Some people find his approach too vague. There’s a charge that the fiddling with the unsaid is a fancy way of saying nothing at all. My experience disagrees. I will let Yudhanjaya draw his own conclusions.

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

This is the only Sci-fi book in the list. Jo Walton’s review describes this multi award winning “hard” science fiction book well. It is a master class in describing the details of how we experience the world. Thus making the world of the story set in the “near future” feel real.

The book melds the technology/science requirements of hard sci-fi with messy timeless human issues. There’s quantum physics, it’s political applications and impact on global society. Amidst which is a divorced father trying to redeem himself. A single mother searching for a wavered son. Caught up in the currents of global events. Described in the way we experience such things. As news broadcasts of historical shifts while going through the day. Or in the small changes creeping into our daily lives that alter the way we live.

There’s more. But it will take more than three minutes to say. Read it yourself and see.

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