Mirage

Overview

There is a simplicity to Mirage, this story of star-crossed lovers whose brief happiness is cut short, that belies the skill of its telling. Set in a closed Arab kingdom in our own time, it has the timeless appeal and delicacy of a fairy tale, yet also the moral weight—and all the human sadness—of a novel by Thomas Hardy. It tells how Sayeed, a good but unexceptional Muslim, finds happiness with Latifa, a girl who might have been beyond his reach had widowhood and misfortune not brought her within it. The scene ...
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Overview

There is a simplicity to Mirage, this story of star-crossed lovers whose brief happiness is cut short, that belies the skill of its telling. Set in a closed Arab kingdom in our own time, it has the timeless appeal and delicacy of a fairy tale, yet also the moral weight—and all the human sadness—of a novel by Thomas Hardy. It tells how Sayeed, a good but unexceptional Muslim, finds happiness with Latifa, a girl who might have been beyond his reach had widowhood and misfortune not brought her within it. The scene for Sayeed's marriage is set with unpretending tenderness and in unerring detail: the city hospital where he works, the shanty town where he lives, his brother's desert home, the peasant wedding, the struggle to make a decent life for his new wife and her child. Heat, dirt, and squalor form the backdrop of a tragedy, one fueled by petty jealousy, sexual desire, and religious fervor, with Latifa, a village girl unused to the ways of the city, its ultimate victim.

Mirage was published in England in 1999 at the author's own expense. It emerged from that year's Booker Prize deliberations the unexpected favorite of a number of judges, just missing the final shortlist.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This powerful first novel surfaced as a contender for the 1999 Booker Prize after being privately published by the author. Set in an unnamed Arab kingdom, it offers a compelling portrait of the affable, industrious Sayeed, who has migrated from his family's farm to the city. In clear, concise language, Sri Lankan-born Chandraratna describes this pious Muslim's daily life as a hospital porter enduring harsh urban realities. When Sayeed's family arranges his marriage, his life becomes even more challenging. Besides paying a dowry, Sayeed must help his new wife, the recently widowed Latifa, and her child adjust to squalid living conditions intensified by ardently religious neighbors troubled over the influx of Western customs. Just as the family begins to bond, several combustible factors ignite in a shocking, explosive conclusion to an otherwise simple, unassuming tale. Throughout, Chandraratna demonstrates a keen eye and considerable talent for sharing the most mundane minutiae without arresting his novel's naturalistic force. Highly recommended.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574231953
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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