Friday, May 7, 2010

Melancholy and menace

THE sense of place is a constant in Roma Tearne’s work. Not surprising, considering she fled her troubled homeland of Sri Lanka at the age of 10 and has never been back. The daughter of a controversial mixed-race marriage, she became a streetwise kid on the streets of Brixton and now lives among the dreaming spires of Oxford. In between, she enjoyed a couple of happy years in East Anglia.

Her new novel, The Swimmer, is set on the Suffolk coast. It’s a story about love, loss and what home really means, and for the most part is told in three different first-person voices. Ria, a woman approaching her mid 40s, lost her father when she was a child and ever since has struggled to find love.

Then a young illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka called Ben arrives in Suffolk via Moscow. Pending a decision from the Home Office on his asylum application, he takes a daily swim in the river near Ria’s home. An unconventional but emotional romance follows – defying boundaries, cultures and, dare we say it, the xenophobic fictional residents of Orford. Tragedy isn’t far away, however.

Full report here Eadt

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