“Suncatcher is a dreamy, mesmerising story on the displeasures of growing up, as Jay and Kairo both long to reach a state of being that captures both the uncorrupted nature of childhood and the cool maturity of adulthood. It may be rare to find that mix in real life, but it is in full abundance in Gunesekera’s novel. “


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, an older boy who he sees a worldly, bold, all he hopes to become. He sees a way of living very different from his own, some aspects of which he is in awe, some which he finds disturbing.

Written in the first person from Kairo’s perspective, it is not full of tedious teenage angst and bewilderment but without sentimentality, Gunesekera gently and relentlessly tells the story (and what a wonderful story teller he is!) of Kairo’s transformation over six months from boy to young man; his near infatuation with Jay, the small jealousies, perceived betrayals, excitements, growing awareness all develop through utterly believable events.

The characters are very clear, very individual and while Gunesekera describes them a little, their actions and words, they way they are treated by others, tell us all and more we need to know about them. The author’s/Kairo’s style is easy to read but not simple; there is beautiful prose in places and quick fire dialogue in others. There is not one superfluous word, and every word is precisely the right word. Can you tell I rather like this chap? If literary contemporary fiction, intelligent yet relaxed writing is what you seek, then seek no further.

A recurring observation is how the past reaches far into the future. “The future feeds on the past”…something perhaps we all should bear in mind.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the Advanced Reader Copy of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.


Reviewed by:

Rebecca Masterman

Added 19th July 2020

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Rebecca Masterman