Chandraratna, Bandula An Eye for an Eye

ISBN 13: 9780143066408

An Eye for an Eye

9780143066408: An Eye for an Eye

In AN EYE FOR AN EYE, Bandula Chandraratna goes back to the closed desert kingdom where his tragic story of star-crossed lovers unfolded in MIRAGE. Despite Sayeed¿s desperate attempts to save her, his beautiful wife Latifa is dead. Sayeed is in debt, stricken with grief and guilt. The only star on his horizon now is the small child that Latifa left behind who, though not his own, Sayeed has come quickly to love. Leila has inherited her mother¿s beauty and something more - a burning anger at her mother¿s unjust fate and a desire to make her own way in the oppressive world she finds herself in. This is Leila¿s story.

MIRAGE emerged from 1999 Booker judging as the unexpected favourite of the chairman, Gerald Kaufman, just missing the final shortlist. With the classic simplicity that made MIRAGE so unique, Bandula Chandraratna reignites a timeless tale of innocence and evil against a savage landscape.

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Set in an unnamed desert kingdom in the present-day Middle East, Bandula Chandraratna's novel An Eye for an Eye is a measured yet passionate depiction of a society torn between Islamic fundamentalism and western libertarianism. Returning to the characters he introduced in his debut novel, Mirage, Chandraratna portrays Sayeed's struggle to recover from the loss of his wife, Latifa, who was sentenced to death by stoning after a court committed her for adultery. Sayeed is in hospital after suffering a mental breakdown and having been discovered unconscious and alone in the heat of the desert. Once discharged from hospital, he must choose whether to forgive the authorities that killed her, or, encouraged by his fundamentalist childhood friend, Yasser, to exact vengeance.

In stark and lucid prose, this tale dares to tackle huge moral themes in a compassionate and understated way. Arabic culture, so often misunderstood and misrepresented in the western media, is delineated in a style that is sensitive and honest, and often touchingly funny. Much comic mileage is gained from the characters' love of western car brands and their desire to own ever-more expensive and prestigious models. And yet, western and Islamic cultures are not seen as opposite poles on the spectrum; both are capable of harbouring good and evil, and violence and greed are inherent in both cultures. Sayeed's kingdom stands at a moral crossroads--trapped between the rampant avarice and moral disregard of capitalism and the implacable, unforgiving morality of Islamic fundamentalism. Faced with these two equally unholy extremes, Sayeed's final choice is all the more remarkable.

An Eye for an Eye's prequel, Mirage caught the attention of the 1999 Booker Prize judges for its ability to meditate on grand subjects such as love, loss and repression with an astonishing deftness of touch. This second novel shares this ability, and, although knowledge of the first novel is always an advantage, this simple tale of an ordinary man with a very extraordinary dilemma is compelling in its own right. --Jane Morris

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A novel of star-crossed lovers set in a closed desert kingdom

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