The lives of Sri Lankan natives and American Peace Corps workers intersect during a time of change and crisis in this accomplished collection of interconnected stories—a debut by an immensely talented young writer.
When rumors of civil war between the ruling Sinhalese and the Tamils in the northern sector of Sri Lanka reach those who live in the south, somehow it seems not to be happening to them. At least not until Janaki’s sister, Lakshmi—now a refugee whose husband, a Tamil, has disappeared—comes back to live with her family. And when Sam, an American Peace Corps worker who boards with Janaki’s family, falls in love with one of his students, a young girl from the north, he, too, becomes acutely aware of the dangers that exist for anyone who gets drawn into the conflict, however marginally.
Skillfully weaving together the stories of these and other intersecting lives, The Beach at Galle Road explores themes of memory and identity amid the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war. From different points of view, across generations and geographies, it pits the destructive power of war against the resilient power of family, individual will, and the act of storytelling itself.
Joanna Luloff received her MFA from Emerson College and her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri. She worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sri Lanka from 1996 to 1998. Her stories have appeared in The Missouri Review (which awarded her the Editor’s Prize in Fiction), Confrontation, Memorious, and New South. She is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Potsdam. The Beach at Galle Road is her first book.