What Lies Between Us: A Novel
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In the idyllic hill country of Sri Lanka, a young girl grows up with her loving family; but even in the midst of this paradise, terror lurks in the shadows. When tragedy strikes, she and her mother must seek safety by immigrating to America. There the girl reinvents herself as an American teenager to survive, with the help of her cousin; but even as she assimilates and thrives, the secrets and scars of her past follow her into adulthood. In this new country of freedom, everything she has built begins to crumble around her, and her hold on reality becomes more and more tenuous. When the past and the present collide, she sees only one terrible choice.
From Nayomi Munaweera, the award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors, comes the confession of a woman, driven by the demons of her past to commit a single and possibly unforgivable crime.
Praise for Island of a Thousand Mirrors:
"The paradisiacal landscapes of Sri Lanka are as astonishing as the barbarity of its revolution, and Munaweera evokes the power of both in a lyrical debut novel worthy of shelving alongside her countryman Michael Ondaatje or her fellow writer of the multigenerational immigrant experience Jhumpa Lahiri." - Publishers Weekly
"The beating heart of Island of a Thousand Mirrors is not so much its human characters but Sri Lanka itself and the vivid, occasionally incandescent, language used to describe this teardrop in the Indian Ocean." - The New York Times Book Review
know…” “Get what, Amma?” “You know, dried up.” “Amma! I’m not a sponge.” “Yes, darling. But good to have someone, no? Look at me. All alone. You mustn’t end up like me. You can’t be happy all alone. With no one to take care of you.” “I’m fine, Amma. I am happy. I have my work, my place. I like my life.” I say this emphatically. Later after I hang up, I think about what it must mean to her that I live alone. In the place she came from, the only reason for this solitary state would be
On the floor, a crush of bodies, sweat spilling from skin to skin. I am shy, but then the music enters my bloodstream. It takes over my pulse and my feet. My fingers are undulating and I am unwinding and uncurling and expanding and laughing riotously with this man who has appeared like something mythical, something magnificent. We dance for hours, his body connected to mine by the music. We stomp and twirl and make faces. We are camp to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, melancholy to “True Colors,”
little more than six feet of white man. Here in America, for someone like me, to love someone like him, what ignoring of history do I have to do? But in love, history can be ignored. Indeed, perhaps, in a love like ours, history must be ignored. What do plantations and shadows hanging from beautiful trees have to do with my lover and me? What does a history of colonialization and enslavement have to do with us? What does a queen’s pounding of her children’s heads in a mortar have to do with us?
serenity, the ecstasy of the exhale. I had never drunk much, I did not have lovers, but this ritual, in the form of a small box in my purse—this I had loved. In those years before him, it had been my only vice. After we were married, it had dwindled down to whenever I was stressed and could hide it from him. Now a sharp hunger grows. Once a week or so when I can’t stand it, I hide and smoke. The first few puffs calm me down. But then a hail of images of what havoc it might be causing within me
imagine the live blossom in my hands, its wild exuberance lighting up this dark place. He must know that I miss flowers. Flowers and the scent of him. His writing. It says, “I’ll never forgive you. I’ll always love you.” It says his name. And this is everything. * * * There is one last thing I must reveal. You know my story and now you must know my name. My name is Ganga. Amma named me after the River Goddess. In the ancient Hindu epics, the Goddess Ganga flows down all the way from the