The Swarna Pusthaka is a much awaited prestigious prize among writers in Sri Lanka. As many of you might already know the award was won by Keerthi Walisarage this year (2013) for his latest novel “Kaala Sarpa”. The award was presented for the fourth consecutive time and this year out of many nominated novels “Kaala Sarpa” was able to grasp the eye of the judges owing to many salient features of the novel. If you haven’t already read this novel, and is looking for some good literary work, “Kaala Sarpa” would be highly recommendable.
The novel starts with a lot of visual imagery and the novelist doesn’t paint an agreeable environment. Instead it is sordid and dark. One of the main characters is introduced at the very beginning of the novel which directly points out that the writer doesn’t want to waste his time on mere descriptions. The opening could be considered as excellent as the reader is thrown to the world the writer introduces abruptly. The description might even serve as a premonition or rather as a surmise about the lives of the characters in the novel who are normally entangled in webs of misery and sorrow.
What highlights his novel craft from other Sri Lankan writers is his ability to point out even the smallest things in the environment of his characters. This feature is normally missed by many writers today. Even the noise of the clock goes unheard in his novel which expands the segregation to which his characters have been confined into. His descriptions catch the eye of the reader instantly. But one may come up with the conclusion that he sways into a lot of exaggeration about the situations presented in the novel and that the readers would find the content boring.
I personally found many descriptions in the novel full of exaggeration which is harmless to a mind trained to absorb a bunch of literary devices all at once. The narration takes some time to develop and the present days are sometimes connected with that of the past which provides the bliss of traveling through the recollections of the characters. Characterization is at its best and one can barely find a flaw in it. The language is colloquial and the rural Sri Lankan touch is visible throughout the novel which makes the novel much more realistic.
There is a halo of romance while the characters move about in their own secluded social circles and the loss from love is also a theme of the novel. The themes of love and marriage reaches broad horizons in a manner which is entirely Sri Lankan and can be attributed even to the global extent. The plot of the novel is confined to the local traditions and lives led by the common people.
Towards the end of the novel the theme of industrialization is brought out together with the reactions of the people who are accustomed to lead humble lives away from modernization. The story steps into a realistic 21st century theme in such a way along with the theme of Sri Lankan social revolution. There is no doubt that once you start reading the novel you won’t feel like putting it down.
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