Boyagoda is a Canadian academic of Sri Lankan descent, and “Beggar’s Feast” is his second novel. (The first, “Governor of the Northern Province,” was set in the colder landscape of Canada, but with an African twist.) It is an ambitious book that seeks to convey the sweep of history through the prism of one island. The lush style of Boyagoda’s prose suits the novel’s background of glittering paddy fields, verging at times on the baroque: one lovely list of shipping goods unfurls over 24 lines. Boyagoda has an idiosyncratic gift for conjuring a sense of place — light is “the color of hasty tea,” a car’s headlights are “bug-lathered,” and in the village the air “was fruit and incense and balm and oil and yes under it all for certain was good dark dirt, the dirt from which all came and to which all goes.”
That last line will sound familiar to many readers of this journal, I think. You can find Randy’s book here.