Sunday, July 29, 2012
Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
Chinaman is about Sri Lanka seen through the eyes of a disgruntled whisky loving 60 year old cricket fanatic.
The sportswriter is on the lookout for the finest bowler he has ever seen Pradeep Matthew but no one seems to know where he is. Slowly though he finds clues and meets a lot of people. Throughout the old man regales us with tales of his life. Chinaman is genuinely funny and contains insights into the Sri Lankan way of life and does a better job of talking about Cricket than any book I have read. As you read it though you realize that a lot of it applies to every race.
The cricket itself is described with great verve and a morbid attention to detail but again its the humor that really stands out.
Chinaman melds fiction and fact with such deftness that you really do not know where the fiction begins and ends. Anecdotes abound. In this alternate history every cricketer who made an impact on Sri Lankan cricket turns out in some way to be indebted to Pradeep Matthew's insight. (Fiction but you buy it, because you are totally hooked to what is happening)
Its a gem of a book written with passion and fire. An absolute masterclass. If you enjoy cricket, here is a book that should go straight into your must read pile.(Even if you do not have must read pile like I do, you should read it nonetheless).
You can buy Chinaman here.