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Homesick [Kindle Edition]

Roshi Fernando
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $12.07
You Save: $4.88 (29%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In this stunningly assured debut work of fiction, Roshi Fernando weaves together the lives of an extended Sri Lankan family.

At Victor and Nandini’s home in southeast London, the New Year’s Eve celebration is under way. Everyone is gathered around—clinking glasses of arrack and whisky, eating freshly fried poppadoms, listening to baila music—waiting to ring in 1983. Upstairs, The Godfather is playing on repeat for a bedroom filled with teenagers drunk on pilfered wine. And in the middle of it all is sixteen-year-old Preethi, tipsy on youth and friendship and covert cigarettes, desperate to belong.

But what does that mean, to belong? As Preethi moves through her life—befriending the local outcast, revealing her brother’s deepest secret, struggling with her own unhappiness and through a souring marriage—this desire for acceptance remains the one constant, both for her and for everyone she knows. Homesick moves back and forth in time, between London and Sri Lanka, circling the people in Preethi’s world: her brother Rohan; her friends Nil, Clare, Deirdre, and Lolly; her aunty Gertie; and terrible cousin Kumar. Together, they are bound by this shared need to fit in somewhere, this rootless desire for a place to call home.

Gorgeously drawn, told with wit and pathos, this poignant narrative blends love with loss, politics with pop culture, tradition with youthful rebellion. Homesick is rich with insight and a kaleidoscopic view of contemporary immigrant life that introduces us to the work of Roshi Fernando, a remarkable new talent.

This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

Editorial Reviews


Praise from the UK:

“Roshi Fernando is a powerful new voice . . . [In Homesick,] charm, humour and poignancy alternate with dark trials . . . The book offers complex, mosaic characters and compelling storylines . . . Fernando’s insight, wit, sensitivity and versatility mark her as a striking new talent.”
—Leyla Sanai, The Independent
“Tender, uplifting and funny.”
—Sophie Martelli, The Observer
“It is notoriously difficult to capture an authentic immigrant voice.  [Homesick] manage[s] it brilliantly . . . A debut that can confidently sit alongside the likes of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Andrea Levy’s Small Island. . . . [Homesick] address[es] the trials of marriage, the coming to terms with sexuality and the need to find an identity in terms that are universal to all.”
—Francesca Angelini, The Sunday Times
“Fernando’s observations are fresh and her style sharp. She can recreate a whole childhood’s worth of low-key resentment in a couple of lines . . . Fernando is serious but never earnest; her compassion for her misguided characters is infectious, and the book leaves you with an uplifting glow.”
—Jake Kerridge, Literary Review
“Exuberant . . . A rambunctious portrait of an extended Sri Lankan family in south London . . . as addictive as any full-length book by Vikram Seth or Michael Ondaatje.”
—Arminta Wallace, The Irish Times
“Everyone in Homesick seeks to belong—to a place, a community—and Fernando portrays their plight with a tenderness that extends to the very structure of [her book] . . . Home, in Fernando’s world, is not a resting place, but rather the dream of a ritual, both inherited and of our own invention.”
—Emily Stokes, Financial Times

About the Author

Roshi Fernando grew up in southeast London and received her Ph.D. in creative writing from Swansea University. She was a finalist for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in 2011. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 1120 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B008XHF2YQ
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0070O5F0E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212,693 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, but a bit too broad in scope September 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Homesick" is described as "kaleidoscopic" and this certainly fits. It's the story of a Sri Lankan family, immigrated to London, that moves back and forth in time and setting. Each chapter is narrated by a different character and the cast includes family, extended family, and friends. It actually reads more like a collection of short stories than a novel.

The work's greatest strength is how poignantly it captures the sense of being "homesick." Some characters are homesick for the country they have left behind, others for a country to which they have never been, but which somehow calls to them. The feeling of being between worlds, the longing for a sense of belonging that is thwarted by the characters being "both" and "neither" Sri Lankan and British, is beautifully captured in the writing.

The difficulty lies in the kaleidoscopic nature of the work. Ultimately the scope was so very broad, that I was left feeling a bit adrift in a very large sea of characters. There were so many that at times it was difficult to remember who was connected and in what way, and the frustration of this created an emotional distance from the characters. The transitions between chapters were sometimes jarring; it felt as though you had just settled in with one group of characters in one place, and gotten a feel for things, when it was time to move on to another group or place in time. Perhaps the constant sense of displacement was intentionally created by the author to elicit in the reader the experiences of the characters themselves, but this unfortunately made it difficult to connect in a deeper way to the story.

By the end, one can see how the threads tie together, and how the larger theme of homesickness plays out in each of the characters' lives. It's an admirable book, but it didn't grab me in the way that I think it could have had there been fewer characters and a deeper connection with each.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
These 16 or so short stories of varying lengths are held together by an extended cast of characters, who are related by blood, marriage, or friendship. Central to the stories are their experiences and identities as Sri Lankan expatriates (immigrants) living in the United Kingdom (Great Britain) - people who are at home neither in Sri Lanka nor the UK. The stories vary in quality: Some I would give five stars, whereas others I would only give three stars - hence my overall rating of four stars. Some stories were haunting, whereas others should, I think, have been left out altogether. That is always an issue in collections of short stories, of course, and other readers might love the stories that left me with a "huh?" reaction. There's a rather puzzling story about a couple at a barn dance in which I never did figure out what was going on. Many of the stories require some patience, to understand what's going on, but a couple of stories never did seem to adequately explain the situation. On the other hand, one short story about a barely functioning man accused of molesting and killing a child was haunting.

Because I was reading a review copy, a list of characters planned for the actual published edition was not yet included, so I struggled some with keeping track of the characters -- who they were and how they were related. The stories moved around in time and space, adding to the difficulty. A few characters were encountered several times in various stages of their lives, while others only featured in a single story (although were connected in some way to other stories).

In addition to the central theme of the immigrant/emigrant experience - identity and assimilation, for example, another common theme involved sexuality and gender identity, including gay and lesbian experiences.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Written from the point of view of an extended immigrant family from Sri Lanka living in London, the author brings a fresh new voice to the immigrant experience. Beginning in 1982 and following the family up to the present day, we meet a wide variety of characters and share important pieces of their lives. This is an ambitious book and I applaud the author for it.

However, I found the reading rather tedious. There was so many characters that I found I got them confused and the contemporary British voices were hard to follow. It all read like a collection of short stories and each story had its own beginning, middle and end. I think the book would have been more effective for me if the author would have been a little less ambitious and had developed a smaller group of characters more fully.

This was a good try and a fresh voice. Hopefully, this author's next book will be better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good debut novel, but has some issues. March 23, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What I would have wanted to know about this book before I got it is that this is a book of short stories. After I got past that annoyance, I started in.

About a third of the way in I wanted to stop. I tried really hard to get past some of the confusion with the characters. I did finish the book and I am glad I did.

This is a book about "not fitting" in. Not knowing where home really is. I think the author has some good ideas here. She has touched on a lot of issues that exist in any country.... As a debut novel, I thought that some of the stories were sweet and endearing which is why I gave it 3 stars.

I wish that she had focused on deepening some of the characters more and had worked to clarify who they were more clearly. There was some confusion with this aspect of the book. I had to really work hard to understand a lot of the characters.

There is also one thing that I learned in determining whether or not a book is written well. Try reading it out loud. I tried this numerous times and the book was a bit wordy and hard to read out loud. It really needed some more editing...

But, as a debut novel, Kudos to Roshi Fernando. The stories in here are tender, well thought out, and poignant.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Series of Intertwined Short Stories
"Homesick" by Roshi Fernando offers complex characters and a compelling storyline. The book deals with the trials of marriage and coming to terms with sexuality. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jeffrey N. Fritz
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
I think that this book was pretty good, and that the author definitely has talent. However, there were so many characters it followed, with so many small plot lines, that it took... Read more
Published 14 months ago by A. M. Brinkley
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate (and ultimately fatal) ratio of characters to racist...
I must admit Homesick by Roshi Fernando is the first book I finally had to stop trying to read. I am honestly pained having to say that, but I like even less that this book gave... Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. L. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many characters but glad I read it
The scope of this novel is too broad. It could easily have been compressed in terms of time scale or cast of characters. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Mullally
4.0 out of 5 stars Homesick
This is one of those books where each chapter is told from the perspective of a different person in a larger group of friends and family. Read more
Published 18 months ago by LH422
4.0 out of 5 stars The author's prose is lovely, I would imagine she is also a poet.
The ending was spot on. I will look for more from this debut author.

An extended family of Sri Lankan ancestry (some are immigrants while some are native born British)... Read more
Published 20 months ago by E. B. MULLIGAN
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that great
I wanted to like this book but I just couldn't get into it. It seemed like the author was just trying too hard. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Brad Teare
4.0 out of 5 stars Homesick for Sri Lanka
An extended family in Britain gathers to celebrate New Year's Day in South London. They are immigrants with some children native born British. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Lynn Ellingwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Linked short stories about a Sri Lankan family
The title of this book is called "Homesick", and it's incredibly apt. The story of a large Sri Lankan family that has emigrated to London, it's about homesickness in all its forms. Read more
Published 21 months ago by skrishna
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Characters but Writing was Superb
I really did like this novel especially since I have traveled to Sri Lanka and am very much still interested in the people and culture of the country. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Obsidian Blue
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