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Upon a Sleepless Isle

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  21 reviews

Dense Green forests in Yala, white-sand coasts in Trincomalee, azure waters off the South Coast, Anuradhapura's ancient temples, and cricket. Civil war, political assassinations, internally displaced communities, industrial-scale corruption. All are Sri Lanka. As are smug bureaucrats, nosy neighbours, and stray dogs with serious axes to grind. Through the eyes of Andrew

Kindle Edition
Published June 27th 2019 by Pan Macmillan India
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Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Andrew Fidel Fernando’s travelogue on the beautiful country of Sri-Lanka is an honest, brutal, heartwarming and glorious compilation of his journey across the length and breadth of this country and its cities- full of dreams, history, culture and its fair share of problems. Fernando’s precise observation, witty narration and unbiased portrayal of cities, people and government make this a true account of what any country is supposed to be like.

The citizen residing here are from diverse
Sairam Krishnan
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A sparkling, funny, and enjoyable travelogue, Upon a Sleepless Isle is a lovely, light read. I came to it because I have read Fernando’s cricket writing for a long time now, and knew that this was going to be good. He brings that same depth, flavour, and wit to the book that makes his cricket writing such a joy. He loves Sri Lanka, you can tell, but he also does not ignore its weaknesses, dark undercurrents, and complexities. Since this is not that kind of a book, he does not dwell on them; he ...more
Apurva Nagpal
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Upon a Sleepless Isle by Andrew Fidel Fernando is a mesmerising travelogue of the author’s experience travelling through Sri Lanka and I have to say, I cannot wait to visit there myself after reading the book.
The author has captured the essence of the streets, the people, the wildlife, the culture and little things that make a place someone’s home beautifully.
He reflects back to the people he met on his journey, on a bus or on a trishaw, the unusual conversations he shared with them, the
It is a witty, endearing account of a foreign yet familiar Nation (atleast those from subcontinent will find it quite familiar). Like the journey Andrew takes, the book is a lazy vacation where human insights and collective history burst through at times. Pretty good read.
Sanjana Hattotuwa
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Through a dozen chapters, covering the author’s journey across the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, country, cities, communities and context are captured with an unerring eye for detail. Foreign readers unfamiliar with the country will no doubt appreciate the artful turn of phrase and skill at prose, both of which, astonishingly, are far better than more seasoned authors I’ve read. But the book is by an observant, sensitive, empathetic, domiciled Sri Lankan, for Sri Lankans. The importance of ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous narrative replete with satire, humor, culture, natural beauty and so many facets of #SriLanka
What a great debut ! Awaiting your next book Andrew Fidel Fernado.
Esme Kennerley
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Full of horrifying and heartwarming stories, I really enjoyed how Sri Lankan history was interwoven seamlessly with the author’s personal travel memoirs. The author was refreshingly and hilariously honest throughout, showing both the negative and positive sides to Sri Lanka in a way that often had me laughing. A beautifully written book, I highly recommend reading it.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This part travelogue, part memoir, is a delightful account of Andrew's fun frolic through Sri Lanka "by bus, cycle and trishaw" in hopes of reconnecting with his country.
Andrew Fidel Fernando, a well-known cricket writer, after returning back to Sri Lanka like most war-time youth, is now driven by a strong urge to quash the strangeness with his homeland. And so he goes on to pen his adventure, which surprisingly begins at a bland government office, that in his own words, "is staffed by people
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stacked on a shelf in Barefoot Gallery(or what I consider to be the beating heart of bourgeois Colombo) is a book alluring titled “Upon a Sleepless Isle”. The first few pages contains an artfully drawn picture of a map of Sri lanka with all the “popular destinations” marked out.I sigh inwardly and begin to wonder whether I have fallen for a tourist trap,blinded by my borderline obsequious admiration of the author.
I fire off a slightly passive aggressive tweet.
But little did I know that Andrew
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you're Sri Lankan and a fan of cricket, you've probably already heard of Andrew Fernando through his column. Maybe, after yet another loss, you've turned to his column to make sense of it all, or retweeted it emphatically in celebration.

After the Easter Sunday attacks, Andrew explained how, beset with corruption and infighting as it was, cricket was much more than a game to Sri Lankans. And I found myself, despite not having followed the game for years, staying up to watch the World Cup.

So I
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite the authors best efforts to portray himself as a bumbling traveller stumbling his way across Sri Lanka, the pages of the book betray that he is anything but that. Andrew weaves a wonderful story of his journey across Sri Lanka witty observations/ anecdotes with some stellar research (some wonderful historical gems in these pages, the best for me was on Adam's Peak section). But the best part of the book was the narrative of a mixed ethnicity citizen grappling with the wonders & warts ...more
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading, especially for Sri Lankans!

There is so much of this book I want to quote, but I fear it will be long and tedious.
Here is the one, that aptly describes my relationship to my country, the reason I am still tethered:

Setting: "while ... and I swam in the pool below Doovili Ella, forks of lightning began to split the sky, thunder filled the forest, and a million little plinks announced the arrival of a downpour..."

"Eyes closed, I wondered whether any place on the planet could be
Ashwin Aashu
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is about Mr. Andrew's journey through his country - Sri Lanka and his experiences that made him understand the veins of his country.
The book is wonderfully written with a good loads of humor and sarcasm. His journey has, as any reader can make out, given him a rich perspective on his nation and its social fabric. He shares his love for his nation but never did he shy away from talking about the harsh recent past of civil war and how it has shaped the society. Politics, heritage and
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up on my recent trip to Sri Lanka , a travelogue that is a delightful and humourous journey and explores the many hues of this island nation.Andrew, a cricket writer, takes the reader on a ride through Sri Lanka all the while educating us about ethno-religious conflict and political corruption that is always in the background of every narrative.
This book broadened my perspective about our neighbouring nation and made me chuckle as the author navigates the beautiful terrain of
Mark Field
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wanderlust, 2019
I stumbled across this book the day after I arrived in Colombo, so decided what better to read than a local's take on tourism and their own history and culture. My travels followed about 70% of Andrew's route, and I enjoyed the local insights as I travelled along. At times he is very scathing of his people but I guess that only comes with a deeper understanding of local culture and tradition, and the differing family values. A great read and very serendipitous.
Damith S
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A superb introduction to Sri Lanka for visitors, but also a terrific examination of the island for locals. Fernando keeps the tone light (there are plenty of laughs) but doesn't balk at tackling the island's many complexities. His Sri Lanka is multi-layered and both infuriating and enchanting at the same time. There is a host of characters in this book. Despite it being a travelogue, so many of the people Fernando introduces seem to serve a narrative purpose. A must read.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4 stars for a wonderful book and one purely for inducing so much nostalgia. This is going to become my standard gift to those who ask about Sri Lanka and those whom I feel should get to know it better.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All it takes is to read the first paragraph to get hooked. A witty and endearing travelogue of a beautiful country.
Marietta De Fontaine
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author has a great sense of humor! I haven’t read a book that better describes Sri Lanka - a very enjoyable read.
David Van Eyck
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
AFF is easy to read. I love his wry humour! It's not all froth and bubble too, he gives you a sober view of the status quo and some very valuable information on the location and its history. This is a book I've already recommended to several people. You're on a good wicket my man!
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
The first thing that strikes you when you start reading, is how beautiful the writing is. The words truly paint pictures, and it's a rare joy. That's the only thing that made me plough through the first half of the book. The content was not nuanced at all, and I often wondered if this is a tourism-propaganda piece for the white man from the West. There was an exoticisation of the country sprinkled with the age-old worn nostalgia that immediately put me off.
But, towards the end of the
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