March 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

First-time visits to one’s ancestral land are often fraught with difficulty. Marc’s journey to his grandfather’s homeland — a formerly idyllic, unnamed island now ravaged by war — is riddled with bullets. Inspired by an old letter from his dead father, Marc heads off to ”find something more” beyond his meager, reclusive existence in London. What he discovers is both an answer to his loneliness and a challenge to his innocence. In his third novel, Gunesekera evokes his birthplace, Sri Lanka, as he presents a love story made more brilliant and more sweet by the destruction all around.

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