As a teenager from Sri Lanka, Sunny is living the typical life of an expatriate in 1970s Manila—a privileged, carefree existence—until one day when the secret behind his mother’s tragic death years earlier is accidentally revealed to him, turning Sunny’s world upside down. His life takes a series of unexpected turns—first in England, where he falls in love with the luminous Clara, and later in Sri Lanka, where he returns during a brief lull in the country’s brutal ethnic war.
Reminiscent of V.S. Naipaul in his nuanced treatment of the melancholy of exile, Gunesekera takes the reader on an utterly absorbing journey across the late twentieth-century postcolonial world. Spanning three continents and thirty years, The Match is a “beautiful and atmospheric” (Irish Times) exploration of the nature of loss and displacement, the search for identity and love, and the possibility, in the end, of redemption and renewal.
A Sri Lankan man mired in nostalgia pursues elusive passions in this fourth, bittersweet novel from award-winning Gunesekera (Heaven's Edge). Sunny Fernando, na ve and given to elaborate fantasies, arrives at the turning point in his adolescence when a cricket match brings him into close contact with fellow Sri Lankan Tina Navratanam. Sunny suffers painful disillusionment when he thinks that he has lost Tina to a friend, which leads in turn to a discovery about his mother's death. Throughout the novel, Gunesekara offers up rich characters, including Sunny's father's best friend Hector, an amiable, patient man who acts as a fairy godfather to Sunny. Delightfully cadenced dialogue reflects both the era and place, especially once Sunny leaves Manila behind for college in England. Once there he repeats the pattern of abandoning reality for visions of the past. As he moves through the seminal moments of his life-falling in love, having a child, reuniting with friends and finally visiting the country of his birth-he struggles with a sense of "existing in a special world of his own making." Gunesekara regards his characters with affectionate indulgence as he paints the evolution of intertwined lives, with the hopeful suggestion that even seemingly ingrained character flaws can be overcome.