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Mosquito [Hardcover]

Roma Tearne
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 3 2007
A classic novel of love and war - a lush, cinematic story in the tradition of The English Patient.

Set adrift by the recent death of his wife, Theo Samarajeeva abandons his comfortable writer's life in London and returns to Sri Lanka, his homeland. Within the protective confines of his beach house outside of Colombo, and under the watchful eye of his loyal servant, Sugi, he attempts to finish his latest novel, though the threat of violence lurks just beyond his door.

Meanwhile, Nulani, a mysterious and artistically talented young woman, installs herself on Theo's veranda and begins to paint him, capturing in her vivid portraits a man in search of redemption. As an unorthodox and tenuous love blossoms between this unlikely pair, Sri Lanka's simmering civil war creeps ominously close, threatening to destroy their fragile happiness. Just when Nulani feels, for the first time in years, that she is loved, and Theo begins to believe he has a future, the terror of war spreads across the nation, converting ordinary citizens into enemy combatants and outsiders into tools for blackmail. In this climate of chaos, both Nulani and Theo must call upon their memories and their art to survive. Set against the tableau of the Sri Lankan conflict between the Tamils and the Singhalese, and sweeping from Sri Lanka to Venice and London, Mosquito is an emotionally charged, unforgettable story that illuminates the power of love and memory. Author and artist Roma Tearne, who fled Sri Lanka when she was young, unflinchingly captures the menace of war while at the same time imbuing her spellbinding work with immense humanity and moral vision.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In Tearne's beautifully crafted debut, middle-aged novelist Theo Samarajeeva leaves London after the death of his wife and returns to his native Colombo, Sri Lanka, which has been ravaged by the continuing civil war between Tamil separatists and the Sinhalese majority government. In his many novels, Theo, who is Sinhalese, empathizes with the Tamil cause, but he refuses to take any extra precautions for his own safety on returning, despite the danger his books bring. After teenage artist Nulani Mendis, whose father was burnt alive by separatists, continually appears in his garden, where she draws in solitude, Theo commissions her to paint his portrait. As Theo and Nulani's lives become increasingly intertwined, genuine romance begins to unfold, but dangers lurk: a menacing former Tamil child solider, Vikram, has taken a liking to Nulani; meanwhile, Nulani's venomous uncle soon learns of the relationship with Theo. Tearne captures the desperation, fear and hope of love during wartime, showing multiple sides of the human capacity for survival. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


'Heart-rending...Readers of this powerful novel cannot fail to be moved...but they will also realise that, as well as being a rebuke to indifference, the book is also about hope and survival.' Christopher Ondaatje, Spectator '"Mosquito" plays with sensuous mixes of human bestiality and natural beauty...It is in this continuing agency of remembered love - presented as the colours, sounds and smells of art, in dialogue with beauty and horror - that the uplifting politics of this fine novel lies.' Independent '"Mosquito" lyrically captures a country drenched in both incomparable beauty and the stink of hatred.' Guardian 'Lovely, vividly described.' The Times 'Tearne brings her skills as a painter to her writing, creating some extraordinarily lovely portraits of Sri Lankan land and seascapes, a stunning backdrop to the changing horrors of the country's 20-year civil war. Anyone who has visited, or has a passing interest in Sri Lanka, should read this beautiful novel.' Sunday Telegraph '"Mosquito" is a complex, ambitious book from a writer with a real talent for language. We will be hearing a great deal about Ms. Tearne in the future.' Lauren B. Davis, author of 'The Stubborn Season' and 'The Radiant City' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Faint of Heart Nov. 8 2008
By Betty K
Mosquito is a powerfully written, literary work which brings to life a horrific period in the modern history of Sri Lanka. It is also a tale of triumph over unimaginable tragedy and brutality.

After wealthy author, Theo Samarajeeva's wife is killed by a mugger on a dark, London street, he returns to his native Sri Lanka to try to find peace and inspiration in that lushly beautiful but dangerous country. He meets and falls in love with a lovely, young artist but "time and unforeseen occurrence" intervenes. Civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamil Tigers has broken out and Theo is kidnapped and held captive for several years. Thinking he is dead, both his best friends and his young love try to make new lives for themselves but nothing can ease the pain of his disappearance.

Some of the descriptions of warfare and torture are so brutal, they are difficult to digest. And yet Ms. Tearne's love for her country shines through in the magnificence of her descriptions. She is herself an artist after all.

This is a difficult book to read and yet I am not sorry I have done so. I have often heard of the problems between the Tamils and the Sri Lankan government but this is the first time I have ever fully understood it. Definitely an intense novel and not for the "faint of heart".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Debut! March 27 2007
After writer Theo Samarajeeva loses his wife, he moves from England back to his home in Sri Lanka.

Just as his grief threatens to undo Theo, Nulani Mendis - a young artist - arrives on his veranda, and begins to draw him. After a time, Nulani's presence starts to heal Theo, and their friendship blossoms into something more.

But the civil war in Sri Lanka steps in and interferes. And, the reader is drawn further into the story, wondering how Nulani and Theo's newfound relationship could possibly survive.

I am absolutely amazed that this is the author's first book! It is beautifully written with flowing prose and vivid description. From the first pages, I was drawn into the story, feeling the humidity, hearing the buzz of the mosquitos and the lap of the waves on the seashore, and seeing the jungle foliage. Ms. Tearne has made Sri Lanka and its people come to life on the pages.

I found it incredibly hard to put this book down, so immersed was I in the story. I will most likely reread it in the future, as its depth is sure to have kept certain things hidden until a later time.

I look forward to reading more by this author!

Rated: B+
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read Dec 23 2008
By Andrew - Published on
I will skip the summary, because you can find that elsewhere...this book's strength comes from the emotions - love and sorrow and hope - that it successfully evokes in the reader without being trite, overly cliched (though the girl reminded me of every beautiful Indian woman I've ever met), or reliant on deus ex machina manipulations (or karma, as I suspect the characters would call it). I would hate for the book to be type-cast as a romance or a Sri Lankan novel or a war novel, because it offers so much about universal humanity. That said, the book puts a human face on a conflict that makes little sense to Westerners (for good and bad reasons). Whatever Ms. Tearne will paint or write, she can be satisfied that she has written an astounding book (and one I'm buying to give to friends!) that will last for a long time (and as an artist myself, I could only hope for so much!). If you have ever loved anything or anyone from this part of the world, this is a great way to have one more small piece of understanding.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We are not normal. We can not speak in normal voices ever again. Even if the peace comes." Sept. 15 2008
By Mary Whipple - Published on
Theo Saramajeeva, a successful writer and film-maker in London, has returned to his native country, Sri Lanka, seeking solace in his spiritual "home" following the traumatic death of his Italian wife. The civil war is on, and Sinhalese government soldiers patrol the roads and beaches. Though Theo, a Sinhalese, sees much evil in his own people and much good in the enemy Tamils, he does not fear violence to himself--he believes that reason can triumph, given a chance. In a separate plot line, Vikram, a Tamil boy soldier-killer, is adopted by a Sinhalese at age twelve and provided with schooling and a better life, but his guardian is gone for years at a time, leaving Vikram virtually on his own. Remembering the terrible deaths of his family, he soon finds his own spiritual "home," once again, among the Tamils--both the separatists and those who want more than a separate state--Tamil domination of the entire country.

Nulani Mendis, a seventeen-year-old Sinhalese with a brutally violent uncle, a high-ranking government soldier, has been mute after watching her father burned to death. She has a fine talent as an artist, however, and when she meets Theo, who is twenty-eight years older than she, she begins to reenter the world again as she sets out to paint his portrait. Gradually, and carefully, they fall in love. Vikram, the prowling Tamil spy, now sixteen, is also in love with her.

When the war explodes in the countryside where these characters live, the Sinhalese, their associates, and friends find that they can no longer recognize the world as human. Though they know that "Living has always been a desperate business," many have found "art as our highest form of hope," but now relocation, imprisonment, torture, murder, and slow death become the norm, and there is no hope, other than escape, physical or emotional. Unconscionable violence alternates with scenes of exquisite love and the serenity of nature, leading to a fast-paced, suspenseful novel in which hope can never be completely extinguished.

Roma Tearne, who grew up in Sri Lanka, crafts a powerful novel, combining the horrifying violence and brutality of brainwashed boy soldiers and opportunistic power seekers with the sometimes lyrical portrayal of nature and the enduring power of love. Now a painter and film-maker in London, as well as a gifted writer, Tearne makes the fraught atmosphere come alive through almost tactile sense impressions, adding depth to this portrait of Sri Lanka, even as she uses the mosquito symbol to show that beauty, when it can be found, always comes with a price. n Mary Whipple

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great story beautifully written Dec 2 2012
By Sharon Douglas - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written story that describes how life breaks us open and we then have a choice about whether we will shut down or remember that while on this planet we are invited to open to the experiences it brings us. Loved reading this complex love story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book! July 25 2010
By kwhome - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A beautifullly written book; poignant, atmospheric, characters you'll love, the horrors of war and the wonders of love and friendship.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read that will bring you into another world April 3 2009
By Anon. - Published on
Probably few people are aware of the tortured history of Sri Lanka which forms the backdrop for this incredibly impressive novel. The author treats the characters with great respect, and is able to accommodate multiple points of view from it's protagonist, Theo Saramajeeva, to the young girl that he develops a great affection for. This book is full of emotion but it is neither corny nor overly-dramatic. The author very effectively manages the narrative, with superb but also concise descriptive language. Excellent.
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