A chronicle of life on the resplendent island. Adele Barker and her son, Noah, settled into the central highlands of Sri Lanka for an 18-month sojourn, immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of the island: its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hot curries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They hear stories of the island's colorful past and its 25-year civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil Tigers.
When, having returned home to Tucson, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island's southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must go back. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed 48,000 Sri Lankans in the space of 20 minutes, and reports from the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicles life in a place few have ever visited. The book is published by Beacon Press.
©2010 Adele Barker (P)2011 Adele Barker
"Rich in the tales of Sri Lanka under colonial British rule as well as coverage of the current civil war, Barker's memoir is an enlightening and captivating read." (Booklist)
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
This was a very heartfelt book that set out to divulge the different factions that have been warring for years on this fantastic island.It also delves into the aftermath of the tsunami that devastated the island.I find myself compelled to want to travel to this country,but think I would simply avoid the north and its myriad of problems.The preserve in the southwest where birds and numerous rare tree species really seemed like a fantastic place to go.
The author really does her best to try and penetrate the complexities of Asian society.I live in China and have studied the language in depth,but often still feel I am on the outside after nearly three years of living here.I felt like she was able to really know the people there better because they were fluent in English.
"Sojourn in Serendipity?"
It's not often that you come across an author in Audible who reads their entire work with such spirit, courage and conviction. I was lucky enough to have been born there so can appreciate different people's points of view.
In this recording, Adele Barker presents a vivid journal of her time in a beautiful island at a time of relative demographic tensions. The running theme of this recording is not so much on political events that plagued the island for so many years but the humanity and interactions of those that lived there - particularly in the wake of the devastating Tsunami of 26th December 2004. The descriptions of how people lost their lives in the Tsunami are particularly harrowing to listen to.
Whilst I would have preferred a lot more emphasis on the gentle religious and traditional aspects of the island as well as its humble islanders - particularly now that the civil war has thankfully ended - her account is honest and vivid and deserves every one of the five stars awarded.
I also think the title for this book could have been better thought out and doesn't reflect the content. Maybe "Serendipity: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka" would have been more appropriate? This is a travelogue with a difference, describing how people living in an island of paradise cope with both natural and man-made adversity.
Finally, having listened to the whole of the recording, I am left with one thought. Sri Lanka is such a beautiful 'paradise'-like island. I wonder if Adele would be willing to travel back and write a follow up to this book with a different emphasis, this time on the historical and cultural aspects of the Island and it's influence on the people of Sri Lanka? Food for thought.
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