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It is a personal story that parallels the larger movement of a country from a hopeful, young democracy to troubled island society. Naipaul, and Anton Chekhov. Reef explores the entwined lives of Mr. Salgado, an aristocratic marine biologist and student of sea movements and the disappearing reef, and his houseboy, Triton, who learns to polish silver until it shines like molten sun; to mix a love cake with ten eggs, creamed butter, and fresh cadju nuts; to marinate tiger prawns; and to steam parrot fish.

Through these characters and the forty years of political disintegration their country endures, Gunesekera tells the tragic, sometimes comic, story of a lost paradise and a young man coming to terms with his destiny.

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Lost horizons

Reef is a historical fiction novel written by Sri Lankan -born British author Romesh Gunesekera , first published by Granta Books in Salgado, a marine biologist obsessed with swamps and seafood, that he is oblivious to the political unrest threatening his country. It is Gunesekera's debut novel and second book, following his collection of short stories, Monkfish Moon. Triton is a young chef who was forced to leave his father's house to work for Mr. Ranjan Salgado, a marine biologist obsessed by swamps, sea movements, and a Sri Lankan island's disappearing reef.


Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera

Chaos theorists tell us that a butterfly that stamps may begin a sequence that ends with the crashing of a typhoon upon a city. Romesh Gunesekera's Reef manages to align and illustrate these two congruent ideas. The staggering consequences of delicate shifts and subtle notions and the vast disjunction caused in society by small initial breaks in civilisation are each, in this book, embodied in the danger posed by poison and technology to the polyp, the tiny creature that built the coral reefs which form the ramparts of Sri Lanka. It is the microscopic polyp that gives the protective but dead, and sometimes deadly, reef its living skin. So immanent a metaphor offers risks for a writer.


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