Skies are not always blue it’s good story telling

Published : 12:01 am  March 10, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (295) reads | 

Fiction of this kind is still very rare in Sri Lanka, either in English, Sinhala or Tamil, it is hoped that the author will write more.

 

‘The Beast’ is a debut novel by Jude Perera. The author describes it as a “beautifully bleak young adult adventure.’


Dylan, Rose, Ashwin and Menaka are four friends fond of hiking and adventure. The story is set in the Horton Plains and they set out to find a mysterious, goat-killing beast known locally as ‘Yakush.’
In the process, they discover a lot more. This is not exactly an Enid Blyton type story, though it, too, has an obtuse, all-knowing Police Sergeant. It has romance, adventure and the author is good at creating atmosphere and a mounting sense of mystery.


He keeps the language simple and straightforward, without resorting too much to the colloquialisms peculiar to Sri Lankan English. Sometimes, though, the language can get flippant. Here’s an example.
“Radios suddenly started belting Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Boney M. non stop.” Despite such occasional slips, the narrative is quite readable. The inclusion of black and white drawings by Vasana Perera at the start of each chapter makes the book look like a well-crafted, neatly printed work.

Parallel to the tracking down of the Yakush is the story of a kidnapping with a lot of twists and unexpected events, including a treasure hunt and the tsunami. The author manages to keep all the plot twists moving within a rather crowded narrative packed into 120 pages.


As for any comparisons with Enid Blyton, it should be pointed out that her Famous Five series were for children of thirteen or less. This is for young adults, though teenagers can enjoy it as much. 
Besides, Jude Perera is a gender-conscious author and his foursomes are also multi-ethnic with one Tamil character. 

 

The author is quite good at building up atmosphere through descriptions of climate and scenery, building up a sense of menace and mystery. In Enid Blyton, the skies are always blue.

 


His main female character Menaka is not someone who dreams of cooking and housekeeping, as Blyton’s Anne does, and the boys in ‘The Beast’ admire Menaka for qualities other than her cooking skills. 


And, as a study from the University of Leicester has pointed out, there is racism and sexism in Blyton’s books (coloured people are always ‘niggers.’). There isn’t a trace of racial bias or sexism in ‘The Beast.’ 


Also, as noted earlier, the author is quite good at building up atmosphere through descriptions of climate and scenery, building up a sense of menace and mystery. In Enid Blyton, the skies are always blue.


As fiction of this kind is still very rare in Sri Lanka, either in English, Sinhala or Tamil, it is hoped that the author will write more.