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The Sandglass

2.77  ·  Rating Details ·  123 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Already hailed as “intricate and compelling” by the Times Literary Supplement, The Sandglass is a striking novel by Sri Lankan author Romesh Gunesekera, a 1994 Booker Prize finalist for his first novel, Reef.

Set in London where the Sri Lankan narrator lives, The Sandglass tells the story of two feuding families whose lives are interlinked by the changing fortunes of postco
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by The New Press (first published September 15th 1998)
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Jul 29, 2014 David rated it did not like it
I liked Gunesekera's Monkfish Moon and Reef very much, but The Sandglass was a struggle to get through. I found the characters uninteresting, the narrative (and the narrator) confused and convoluted, and the prose flat, occasionally cringe-worthy, like a pretentious first draft from a dubious MFA workshop. I don't know what the reviewers in the major book-chat-press were thinking in their over-the-top reviews. I'll probably return to Gunesekera and hope for the best, a return to the sparkle of h ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Lorraine rated it did not like it
Maybe worthy of 1 1/2 stars...I kept expecting the characters to develop, something to be revealed, but most of the book (though written beautifully)felt incomplete.
Jan 18, 2015 Imaan rated it it was ok
While the ideas for the characters come together well in this book, that's all this book is; characters. The plot, or rather lack thereof, is at best slow and steady, and at worst a long and seemingly never-ending piece, woven from paragraphs that do not seem relevant to each other.
There is no climax, no plot twists, no resolution, this book is best described as a descriptive essay that won't end, or a piece on a family background. Unfortunately, I regret the hours this book took from me and I d
Nicholas Garforth
Sep 21, 2015 Nicholas Garforth rated it it was ok
Very disappointing - I struggled to complete this as the characters left me entirely cold and uncaring about their backstory. And the way the story was told came across as convoluted, confusing and to a large part unbelievable: how could x have found this out?No great revelations or startling twist to reward me either. It just felt incomplete and half- hearted. Given her laudatory comment on the cover I have decided not to bother with any of Penelope Fitzgerald's work either. This is going to th ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Thivanka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a phenomenal novel which weaves in between space and time effortlessly. The way how Gunesekara confines all of the events of the book to just one wintry day in London, but yet places no constraint on the incidents of days gone by, is just literary masterwork. And its pure genius how he named the chapters after different times of a single day, which perfectly harmonizes with the whole concept he is portraying. This novel is purely a narrative driven by time, beautifully interlacing the pa ...more
Lex Poot
Mar 04, 2016 Lex Poot rated it really liked it
I was taking aback reading the negative reviews of the book. They seem to be subjective projecting them against his other books. Surely in the hands of a write less gifted this good be a bad book. However as I am unbiased having never read one of his books I thought it was quite excellent. It is a familiar theme pitching the modern diaspora against the old rich. I could not give it 5 stars as I thought the beginning of the book was rather odd. The author and his editor should have considered a r ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
The story of two feuding families is told simply but requires attention to follow, vacillating between past and future and London to Colombo. Their feud has occurred over money, love, and business for generations as they try to succeed during colonial Sri Lanka, post-colonial SL, and as expats in England. the feud may have included murder and infidelity but these hypotheses remain vague and we have no resolution. I'd have preferred that the author create more definitive story.
May 01, 2016 Baljit rated it liked it
This book is set in the post-colonial period of Sri Lanka and is about the feud between 2 families, which involved business rivalry, cooperate wheeling and dealing. Some secrets are exposed in a convoluted fashion years later as the memories of an old lady stir the conscience of her prodigal son and her lodger.
Jan 16, 2008 polly rated it really liked it
I was skeptical of the shifting voices in this but decided at the end that he'd pulled it off well. Post colonialization forms the backdrop to this novel, as with most of his work. I like Reef better--the language is more imagistic. But this novel surprised me. It sneaks up on you, and the language, though not as imagistic, is still beautiful.
Adnaan The AdMan Sabireen
Feb 18, 2010 Adnaan The AdMan Sabireen rated it did not like it
It's ok. Nothing fantastic. For me it's more about the2 cities (Colombo & London), during the respective periods, than the story itself. 'A Tale of 2 Cities' as it were. Also, don't think much of the abstract, random style of writing, switiching from various characters and time frames.
Aug 29, 2013 Joanne rated it did not like it
I didn't like the way the author skipped around from one timeframe to another - it was confusing. I found it difficult to care about the characters but did want to find out what happened in the end. I was disappointed.
Jul 20, 2014 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an okay read but not as good as others of his that I have read. A bit disjointed, didn't really get much of a 'feel' for the characters and found the largely unidentified 'narrator' a bit annoying at times. Only 5/10 for me.
Shruti Rao
Sep 04, 2016 Shruti Rao rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sri-lanka
You know, this book may not be the best, but it's good enough for me to want to seek out more of his writing.

2.5 stars.
Sep 09, 2016 Jolene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solitary Lankan man seeks the company of an ageing woman and gets intrigued by her colorful family history. Most of the action is "off screen".
John Furniss
Aug 18, 2013 John Furniss rated it did not like it
I found this book a disappointment after The Reef and found it rather tedious. I gave up about 80% of the way through!
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Oct 11, 2007
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Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka where he spent his early years. Before coming to Britain he also lived in the Philippines. He now lives in London. In 2010 he was writer in residence at Somerset House.

His first novel, Reef, was published in 1994 and was short-listed as a finalist for the Booker Prize, as well as for the Guardian Fiction Prize. In the USA he was nominated for a New Voice Awa
More about Romesh Gunesekera...

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