Nayomi Munaweera

Island of a Thousand Mirrors, 2012 Longlist

Photo Credit: Nathanael F. Trimboli

Nayomi Munaweera was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Nigeria. She lives in Oakland, California. Island of a Thousand Mirrors is her first novel.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors is set on the eve of Sri Lankan independence from British colonial rule. A young Sinhala boy, Nishan, enjoys the simple life of a fishing village where the idea of peace stretches infinitely ahead. In Colombo, the girl who will be his wife leads a privileged existence. 

Sri Lanka is shaken by the rumblings of civil war which lead to the daily presence of war. The brutality of the 1983 race riots and mass extermination of Tamils cause the family, though Sinhala, to migrate to Los Angeles. Shiva and his family also disappear.

Meanwhile, Saraswathi, a young Tamil girl living in the active Northern war zone of Sri Lanka dreams of becoming a school teacher. Her family struggle in a daily fight for survival. When Tiger terrorists come to her school to enlist child soldiers, Saraswathi rejects them. However, her dreams are shattered by a group of Sinhala soldiers who arrest her under the pretext that she is a Tiger. Brutally raped, Saraswathi is devastated.

Saraswathi’s family decides that she has ruined the family’s reputation, is spoilt goods, and unable to make a proper marriage. They decree she must join the Tigers. At first unwilling, Saraswathi soon realizes that she has power within the Tiger movement. With weapons and training she will never again be weak and powerless as she was with the soldiers. Soon she is a dedicated Tiger and resolves to join the Black Tigers suicide squad.

Shiva and Yasodhara flee Sri Lanka. They marry and build a life in San Francisco. They have a daughter and attempt to forget. When the war ends, they are at first unbelieving and then elated. Yasodhara vows to return to the island with her daughter.


Perera Hussein, Perera Hussein Publishing House

Buy Island of a Thousand Mirrors online