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The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
Cover of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
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An Instant National Bestseller • One of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2022 • An NPR Book We Loved in 2022 • Named a Best Fiction Book of 2022 by the Washington Post, Times (UK), Financial Times, and The Guardian.

Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a searing satire set amid the mayhem of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida—war photographer, gambler, and closet queen—has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

Ten years after his prize-winning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka's foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a "thrilling satire" (Economist) and rip-roaring state-of-the-nation epic that offers equal parts mordant wit and disturbing, profound truths.

An Instant National Bestseller • One of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2022 • An NPR Book We Loved in 2022 • Named a Best Fiction Book of 2022 by the Washington Post, Times (UK), Financial Times, and The Guardian.

Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a searing satire set amid the mayhem of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida—war photographer, gambler, and closet queen—has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

Ten years after his prize-winning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka's foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a "thrilling satire" (Economist) and rip-roaring state-of-the-nation epic that offers equal parts mordant wit and disturbing, profound truths.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Shehan Karunatilaka is the award-winning author of Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is his second novel. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, he studied in New Zealand and has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam, and Singapore.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2022
    A murdered Sri Lankan photojournalist strives to put his afterlife to good use. Karunatilaka's rich, engrossing second novel, the winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, opens with its title character in a post-mortem waiting room in 1990. There, he's informed that he has seven moons (i.e., nights) to remain on Earth as a ghost before entering the Light and the next life. He could head Light-ward right away, but Maali has too many unanswered questions. How was he killed? Who killed him? What has happened to his lover, Dilan, and his best friend, Jaki? And can he somehow tip them off to the location of photos he shot that reveal the depths of the war-torn island's atrocities? With that setup, Karunatilaka's novel is at once a murder mystery and a historical novel of the island nation's violent struggles throughout the '80s. That necessitates explaining a host of ethnic and political factions, plus outside forces from India to the United States, on top of which Karunatilaka layers a host of otherworldly ghouls, demons, and spirits that Maali has to navigate. But despite that complexity, the novel reads smoothly and powerfully, buoyed by Maali's defiant and flawed persona--his weeklong stint as a dead man means reckoning with his sexual promiscuity, gambling habit, and unsettled family as much as the riots and state-sponsored death squads he's strived to expose. Though the novel is maximalist in its plotting, it's intimate in the telling--Karunatilaka writes in the second person to better root the reader in a maelstrom of characters and otherworldly incidents. And the main point gets across: The world is sick with violence and corruption, but truth will out, and the possibility for change exists if we don't succumb to defeatism. A manic, witty, artfully imagined tale of speaking truth to power.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Randy Boyagoda;New York Times Book Review Karunatilaka's novel breaks with conventional modes of storytelling to reveal humanness in a strange, sprawling, tragic situation... Like Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Grass's Tin Drum and Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Karunatilaka's book is supremely confident in its literary heterodoxy, and likewise in offering idiosyncratic particularities of ordinary Sri Lankan life well beyond the serious matters of politics, history, religion and mythology... Readers everywhere will find in such demanding specificity what we all seek from great books: the exciting if overwhelming fullness of an otherwise unknown world told on its own terms, and that frisson of unexpected identification and understanding that comes from working to stay in it.
  • James Walton;Times [UK] There can't be many novels that simultaneously bring to mind Agatha Christie, Salman Rushdie, Raymond Chandler, John le Carré and Stranger Things—but this one does... Karunatilaka respects the conventions of all the genres that he piles up so extravagantly...The result is an unexpectedly exhilarating read.
  • Claire Allfree;Telegraph A mix of mischievous magic realism and absurdist humour... [A] wild, uncategorisable [novel].
  • Tomiwa Owolade;Guardian The obvious literary comparisons are with the magical realism of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez. But the novel also recalls the mordant wit and surrealism of Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls or Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita... Karunatilaka has done artistic justice to a terrible period in his country's history.
  • Rebecca Jones;BBC This book is difficult to categorise. With ghosts and spirits in the afterlife, it is part supernatural. But it also gives you a thorough grounding in Sri Lankan politics. And as the narrative gathers pace it becomes a whodunnit. The result is a thrilling read.
  • Charlie Connelly;New European Review The most significant work of Sri Lankan fiction in a decade... Amid the dryness, satire and weary lamentations on the state of Sri Lanka there is genuine heart to this novel.
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    W. W. Norton & Company
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Shehan Karunatilaka
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