Serendib

Overview


I didn't invite him. The idea was all my father's, my seventy-four-year-old father who had never been outside America and who suddenly thought that Sri Lanka, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, would be a jolly place to visit.

When John Toner, a retired Cleveland judge, decided on a whim in April 1990 to spend a month with his son in war-torn Sri Lanka, he was as much a stranger to his seventh--and last--child as he was to the hardships of life in a Third World country. ...

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Overview


I didn't invite him. The idea was all my father's, my seventy-four-year-old father who had never been outside America and who suddenly thought that Sri Lanka, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, would be a jolly place to visit.

When John Toner, a retired Cleveland judge, decided on a whim in April 1990 to spend a month with his son in war-torn Sri Lanka, he was as much a stranger to his seventh--and last--child as he was to the hardships of life in a Third World country. Serendib chronicles the journey that follows as a father and son who had never been alone together live in close quarters, in the poorest of conditions--and replace awkwardness and distance with understanding and love.

Along the way are the stories of John learning to eat with his fingers, bathing in a river alongside cows, and trading his wool trousers for a traditional sarong. We witness his coming face-to-face with a Hindu priest in a loincloth and his first encounter with the everyday violence of a country at war with itself. John watches with awe as students learn without computers, books, or even paper; he bonds with Sri Lankan children and learns, once again, how to give and how to play. Each new experience pushes Toner's father to face his fears--and brings him closer to his youngest son.

Serendib offers a colorful, humorous, and touching account of multiple discoveries--of an old man exploring deep within himself, of a father and son finding each other, and of two cultures coming together on uncommon ground and awakening to the joy and hope of the life they share.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Serendib is winning and moving. More than the epic paternal story, Jim Toner's book becomes a cross-cultural tale in which a son comes to understand his own heritage against the backdrop of a strange land. It vividly portrays the mythic journey we all must take and the cultural journey we all should take—a very fine book."--Steven Harvey, author of Bound for Shady Grove

"Serendib is a compelling and urgent memoir. The writing is stunning, the characters fascinating and memorable, the locale of war-torn Sri Lanka, exotic. This is a story full of love, innocence, and spirituality. Very little contemporary literature possesses such sweet power."--Sue William Silverman, author of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You

"Serendib is filled with scenes that both lay bare and redefine the relationship between father and son. . . . Because of this, and because of Toner's insightful prose, Serendib is an impressive first book."--Fourth Genre

"Peace Corps volunteer Jim Toner relates the story of his 74-year-old Irish-Catholic father's unexpected visit to Sri Lanka in Serendib. Conservative, retired judge John Toner had never been outside America; his experiences during his month on the beautiful but impoverished, civil war-torn island are wryly observed through his son's eyes. . . . This book is effective not only as a touching memoir but as an illumination of a complex and fascinating culture."--Publishers Weekly

"It is impossible to finish Serendib without feeling that meaningful relationships are indeed possible (or recoverable) in the world."—Peace Corps Writers

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Peace Corps volunteer Jim Toner relates the story of his 74-year-old Irish-Catholic father's unexpected visit to Sri Lanka in Serendib. Conservative, retired judge John Toner had never been outside America; his experiences during his month on the beautiful but impoverished, civil war-torn island are wryly observed through his son's eyes as the older man gradually learns to adapt to alien surroundings and customs while forming a bond with a son he never really knew. This book is effective not only as a touching memoir but as an illumination of a complex and fascinating culture. ( Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820346618
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author


Jim Toner lives in Sonora, California, and teaches English at Columbia College.
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