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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A coming-of-age story in Sixties Sri Lanka by the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Reef

Ceylon is on the brink of change. But young Kairo is at loose ends. School is closed, the government is in disarray, the press is under threat, and the religious right are flexing their muscles. Kairo’s hardworking mother blows off steam at her cha-cha-cha classes; his Trotskyist f
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by The New Press (first published November 28th 2019)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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DNF @ p. 39

Sadly, this is a case of "it's not you, it's me." Reading ARCs is always really difficult because there are no preliminary reviews to clue you in to whether a book will work or not. You're going solely by the concept and the summary. I thought this book sounded really good. I love coming of age stories, especially international ones that give you a slice of life idea of what it's like to live in another nation. On that note, I
Reading_ Tamishly
Mar 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Such a well written book with similar vibes somewhere in between the addicting prose of Jhumpa Lahiri and André Aciman.

More of a character driven book with very realistic characters, this is a story told from the perspective of a growing up teenager who’s life is taking turns they cannot understand enough about. With adults who are confusing and strict for no particular reasons and a relationship/friendship that’s almost wobbly and indifferent, the character struggles with their caring nature an
Bookishbong  Moumita
The book reflects the social and political atmosphere of 1960s Ceylon (now Srilanka ). We witness the Coming-of-age with a young boy , Kairo, who has to take responsibilities beyond his age. Kairo's life change when he met Jay. Jay is just like the opposite pole of a magnet. Kairo starts to follow Jay everywhere and never wants to leave him .

My thoughts.

First I must admire the writing of the author . The plot first feels quite slow but gradually the book started to engraft me. Creating of the ch
Mridula Gupta
Kairo, born in a working-class family in the 1960’s Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) meets Jay, a boy who seeks adventure and thrill to cover up his hate for his rich, influential and stubborn father and his loathing for his sensitive mother. In the present scenario, Ceylon battles a political crisis, a perfect time for young minds such as Kairo and Jay to explore the streets. As Ceylon’s landscape changes gradually through the story so do Kairo’s perspective of things and what starts as a casual but fasc ...more
Fathima Ashab
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HOW COME I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS AUTHOR?! I HAVE CERTAINLY MISSED A LOT. There are some authors whose work you would love instantly and die to read everything else by them. Romesh is that author to me. This book was beautiful in every way possible. He has depicted the imbalance of the social structure and hierarchy through the lives of two friends from two different backgrounds and their perspectives towards wild life and pretty much everything mundane around them. HOW CAN SOMEONE WRITE THAT ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I make an effort to read internationally. I believe it’s important to sample global literary perspectives and it makes one a well rounded reader. So that was the main appeal of this book for me, its Sri Lankan setting. The story itself is a fairly prototypical bildungsroman set during a turbulent time to emphasize and highlight the dramatic events of a six month friendship between two boys from very different social strata. The main character is a kid from an average family, with pragmatical mot ...more
Chitra Ahanthem
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What happens when the young have to cope with the weight of the adult world around them: a world that is additionally being fractured by the push and pull of a political change that shows authoritarian control? This is the essence of this coming of age story set in Ceylon in 1964,narrated by Kairo whose life cannot be counted as anything remarkable till he meets an on the edge Jay who is his complete opposite in terms of temperament and family background.  

Jay is flamboyance personified with the
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aoc
Gunesekera’s evocative novel opens with the protagonist, Kairo, freewheeling on the dusty tarmac on a hot, sticky afternoon in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Kairo's life takes an unexpected turn, as soon as he meets Jay, an intrepid adventurer and budding naturalist, from a wealthy family. As Kairo gets to know Jay, he is drawn into the world of class, privilege, and eccentricities. A classic bildungsroman that explores the fragile social class boundaries in a multifaith postcolonial Sri Lanka.

Pramudith Rupasinghe
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I read in the recent times, especially written by South Asian writers. The langue is rich and gripping. Romesh uses his usual dry humor throughout the book keep the heart of the story pumping. His ability in depicting the situations vividly allows the reader see every single event cinematic. I simply l0ved the book.
Apr 29, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Maybe like the way we dream of the future, we also dream up the past, smoothing all the edges for the sake of our present longings"

Romesh Gunasekara's coming of age book set in 1960s Srilanka is a slow burn affair that indulges itself too much with sentences that hang around without saying much. The book did not need a political setting, nor did it need so many episodes - for it's basic plot of making sense of a loved one actions.

Kairo's young world changes the day he meets the rebel bourgeo
Pretty Little Bibliophile
This was my first Gunesekera book and by god! Am I a fan now! Suncatcher was a beautiful and poignant coming-of-age novel or a bildungsroman, as we lit grads like to put it.
The story is set in the 1960s Ceylon, erstwhile Sri Lanka, and it is a time of great political change all around. The reverberations of these political happenings resonate throughout the book and control how the adults act or what they say. At the center, we have the protagonist Kairo, a pretty much normal guy whose life tak
Stephanie Jane
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-asia
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

I was blown away by Romesh Gunesekera's gorgeous prose throughout Suncatcher. It's such a beautifully written novel which vividly captures the sweltering and stifling atmosphere of 1960s Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called back then). We see the nation at a social and political turning point, but through the eyes of young Kairo who isn't yet even old enough to really understand the dynamics of his own parents' relationship let alone the manoeuvri
Nabila Shaikh
Suncatcher is a coming-of-age novel set in 1964 Ceylon (now Srilanka). It's about the friendship between Jay and Kairo at a time of political unrest which gave them both the perfect opportunity to explore the streets and their youth.
There were both pros and cons to the book. Firstly, the writing was so beautiful and vivid that it made me feel like I was there with the characters travelling through the picturesque and charming city.
Secondly, the author also wrote well fleshed out characters; al
Gunjan | Bookworm Reads
There are books that stay with you even after years of reading it. And for me, "Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera" is going to be on that list. While I was reading this book, I was constantly thinking about The Kite Runner because of the warmth it had and a whole range of emotions throughout the book.

The book is based in Ceylan, Srilanka which is on the brink of change. It's a coming of age story, narrated by Kairo who is more like an observer of the lives of people around him. The day he met Jay,
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written novel about Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) in the 1960's at a time of political unrest. There are school closures and constant uncertainty around the government, which all hit close to home and made the reading experience that much more palpable. We follow Kairo, who comes from a working class family, and his new friend Jay who comes from a very privileged upbringing. This story is about complex relationships, friendship and class dynamics which was all done very we ...more
Nov 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
I thought this short novel was among the most boring I’ve read. It just never moved forward and the metaphors were too heavy handed. The dialogue was clunky and unnatural. It worked that as a child, the protagonist overheard but little understood the adult conversation about politics. It was pre-civil war Ceylon and understanding the sociopolitical factors that interested me but it was too cumbersome and never quite got there.
Robynne Schembri
Aug 04, 2021 rated it liked it
DNF, @ 108 pages.
I kept trying but I guess it's just not for me.
I did like the author's writing style but I couldn't connect to the characters. I didn't understand Kairo's motivations and I felt that the cultural representations were superficial.
Bonnye Reed
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Romesh Gunesekera, and The New Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this work of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of Suncatcher: A Novel. It is a visit to another world very well pictured, and a book you cannot put down.

Suncatcher is a coming of ago tale covering a generation of youngsters caught in the political mess that was 1964 in the land that would become Sri Lanka. J
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This is the first book written by Romesh Gunesekera which I have read and I am pretty certain I will be reading more, if not all.

I enjoy books set in a different culture from my own so the blurb for this appealed to me, although coming of age novels are usually “not my thing”…but this book is very much my thing.

“One day you’re just playing in the sand, and then suddenly everything looks so different”

In 1964 Ceylon, a time of great change for the country and its people, Kairo meets Jay
Murtaza Kuwarawala
Title - Suncatcher

Author - Romesh Gunesekara

Genre - Coming of Age Historical Fiction

So this is my first venture with a book based in Sri Lanka and I must say this was pretty impressive. Most of the coming of age books that I have come across these days had been revolving around fantasy but hardly I have come across books that even revolves around the political turmoil in the country and Suncatcher is one of them.

'Suncatcher' by Romesh Gunesekara is a story of bonding and friendship between two y
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thank The New Press and NetGalley for this ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

I've read three of this author's other books. And with this one, I'm feeling mixed. There's a certain sense of suffocation and/or intimacy (the latter feels like the helplessness of adolescence when all/much feels possible yet removed or delayed).

Two boys become friends during a time of turmoil in Sri Lanka. Both sets of parents have different political stances, reflecting the various fractions. And each parent i
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book really impressed me. I went in having not heard of the author before, and therefore not having any concrete expectations, and I'm glad for that as it kept my mind open to the developments in the book. Suncatcher is the story of two young men growing up in Sri Lanka, told by the hindsight perspective of one of them during his adulthood. He references this fact often - what he wish he knew, or what he later recognizes now that he is retelling the events as they occured. The book often ma ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Suncatcher is a beautifully written story about a friendship that develops in Ceylon during an uncertain and changing political climate. Kairo meets a boy called Jay and they become fast friends. Kairo is absolutely enamored by Jay and his world revolves around him. Gunesekera did a great job of portraying class differences and political prejudices through the eyes of a young narrator through observations while mixing in the opinions of the boys’ parents. Enjoyable read, I just couldn’t get the ...more
Garry Nixon
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colombo, Ceylon (as it was then called) in 1964. The narrative and structure are comfortingly straightforward. So are the echoes of Gatsby and Brideshead. None of that diminishes the extent to which I fell into this story of adolescence and the way that the world has of crashing in. And why is it that boys who love nature nonetheless have a need to trap it and put it into cages or tanks? Several details caught my eye: the protagonist's father, a Trotskyist and a civil servant, who also likes a b ...more
Sulagna Mondal
Author Romesh Guneshekera has beautifully crafted a book that explores the wildness of young boys. The concept of hero-worship is delectably shown through Kairo, who is ready to follow Jay wherever he can. Even Kairo and Jay's personalities contradict each other so much. I loved reading the tidbits of their characteristics. While Jay is a fearless young boy ready to explore the world even if it risks his life and others', Kairo is the eager follower of Jay, ready to learn new things just to impr ...more
A light bildungsroman set in Sri Lanka, Romesh Gunesekera tells a story of a young boy growing up in Colombo in 1964. The narration is beautifully rendered by the author - though I am not sure if Sri Lankan teenagers at the time would've communicated in highfalutin English vocabularies among themselves. A similar issue of children having an over mature voice also held me back a bit when I was reading the excellently written Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. Contrariwise, Deepa Anappara, ...more
I received this as an E-ARC via Netgalley. A big thank you to them, and to the publishers, The New Press. All opinions are my own

I found myself being very confused when reading this story as I couldn't put my finger on what the story itself was about. Not sure if this is a case of the translation of Gunesekera's book or that the story itself just didn't fit with me and what I expected from the description, which was describing a coming-of-age story. I couldn't really concentrate on the story its
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tale of friendship and coming-of-age is set in Ceylon in 1964 just before the looming political upheaval which will change the country for ever. Signs of the coming disruption are everywhere, but young Kairo is more concerned with his burgeoning friendship with the slightly older and more privileged Jay, a relationship which will change his own life for ever just as profoundly as the political situation. It’s a tender and insightful tale, which captures the fragility of the boys’ relationsh ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
There's something Tim-Winton-esque about this novel. It has the same Winton issue with ending too- but when it gets going its astonishing. Detailed review to follow. ...more
Osama Siddique
'Reef' is what first introduced me to the languid and sensuous writing of Romesh Gunesekera. And its characteristic joy in and celebration of nature. This is long before I happily found myself on the same panel as him at a literary festival in London in 2018. As I have discovered, few writers possess a better match between the mood of their literary output and their personalities. Gentle, somewhat reticent and evasive, but always pleasant, friendly, intriguing and perceptive, Gunesekera charms a ...more
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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

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