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Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka

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Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Since the early fourteenth century, travelers have journeyed to the resplendent island of Sri Lanka—once known as Ceylon—believing it to be just short of paradise. In 2001, centuries after the arrivals and departures of Dutch admirals, Portuguese soldiers, Arab traders, and British tea planters, Adele Barker and her son Noah came from Tucson, Arizona, to the island. Settling into its verdant central highlands, they would spend the next year immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of Sri Lanka—its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hot curries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They would also encounter there a world infused with the religious traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and missionary Christianity—and with the troubled history of sectarian violence that had culminated in a twenty-five-year civil war.

Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicles life on the island in all its complexity. Barker conveys the quality of everyday experience—at once lyrical and profoundly discordant. A professor at the University of Peradeniya, she daily crosses a campus lush with greenery and reverberating with birdsong, discovering that only decades before, its swollen rivers had carried the bodies of students killed in the insurrections. Her narrative moves deftly from personal details—people she befriends, the cohabiting insects, the marauding monkeys that steal her TV antenna, the elephants lumbering through traffic —to eyewitness accounts of the devastation wrought by the war between the Sinhalese government and the Tamil Tigers.

When, having returned to Tucson after her sojourn in Sri Lanka, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island’s southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must go back. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed forty-eight thousand Sri Lankans in the space of twenty minutes, and reports from the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Barker speaks with survivors in temporary camps and seeks out people she had known years before, only to discover that some of them were lost forever on "the day the sea came to the land."

Missing neither the nuances of the peaceful Buddhist pace of life nor the explosive violence of civil war, Barker offers an eye-opening account of the "pearl" of the Indian Ocean, inviting American readers to experience firsthand the vivid beauty and turmoil of a place few have ever visited.

Synopsis:

A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage

Missing neither the nuances of the peaceful Buddhist pace of life nor the explosive violence of its protracted civil war and the 2004 tsunami, Adele Barker offers an eye-opening account of the “pearl” of the Indian Ocean, inviting American readers to experience firsthand the vivid beauty and turmoil of a place few have ever visited.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Synopsis:

A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage

Adele Barker andher son, Noah, settled into the central highlands of Sri Lanka for an eighteen-month sojourn, immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of the island--its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hotcurries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They hear stories of the island's colorful past and its twenty-five-year civil war between the Sinhalesemajority and the Tamil Tigers. When, having returned home to Tucson, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island's southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must goback. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed forty-eight thousand Sri Lankans in the space of twenty minutes, and reportsfrom the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicleslife in a place few have ever visited.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adele Barker, who was awarded a Ucross Fellowship for her work on this book, is the author or editor of five books on Russian literature and cultural life. Most recently, she received a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant to teach and write in Sri Lanka.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Table of Contents

Going and coming I — Student life — Housekeeping — Insurrections in the hills — Hot curry — Rain — The war next door — Colombo — Colonialist torpor — Life in a different key — Gihin Ennam — When the sea came to the land — Home — Up and down the mountain — The story of a wave — Early warning system — Arugam Bay — Batti — The road to Jaffna — In jaffna — Reading the classics — Leaving Jaffna — Going and coming II.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780807000625
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : General
Author:
Barker, Adele
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Educators
Subject:
Travel : Asia - General
Subject:
Travel : Asia - Southeast
Subject:
Travel : Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Personal Memoirs
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
January 2010
Binding:
eBooks
Language:
English

Related Subjects

Biography » Educators
Biography » General
History and Social Science » Asia » India » Ancient and General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology
Travel » Asia » General
Travel » Asia » Southeast Asia
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka
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Product details pages Beacon - English 9780807000625 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage

Missing neither the nuances of the peaceful Buddhist pace of life nor the explosive violence of its protracted civil war and the 2004 tsunami, Adele Barker offers an eye-opening account of the “pearl” of the Indian Ocean, inviting American readers to experience firsthand the vivid beauty and turmoil of a place few have ever visited.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

"Synopsis" by , A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage

Adele Barker andher son, Noah, settled into the central highlands of Sri Lanka for an eighteen-month sojourn, immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of the island--its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hotcurries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They hear stories of the island's colorful past and its twenty-five-year civil war between the Sinhalesemajority and the Tamil Tigers. When, having returned home to Tucson, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island's southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must goback. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed forty-eight thousand Sri Lankans in the space of twenty minutes, and reportsfrom the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicleslife in a place few have ever visited.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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