A Sri Lankan-born novelist creates an indelible and endearing heroine.
Sodden Downstream (Lawrence & Gibson, $29) is local author Brannavan Gnanalingam’s fifth novel, but the first to feature a character from his country of birth, Sri Lanka. Sita is a Tamil refugee, who lives in the Hutt Valley and works as a cleaner in Wellington. When a flood halts all transport, Sita’s boss warns her that if she doesn’t show up, she’ll lose her job. As Sita supports her husband and son, she must find a way to get to work. But for every step she takes closer to her goal, she seems fated to be set back two, despite the willingness of everyone around her to help. Longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, this novel is a gem. Sita is a gentle, endearing vessel for the themes of social injustice, and her determination and optimism should qualify her as one of fiction’s great heroines. Highly recommended.
This article was first published in the January 6, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.