By VV Ganeshananthan
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99, 320 pages
FT bookshop price: £10.39
Yalini, the American-born daughter of Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants, travels to Toronto on a morbid mission. She is going to meet a dying uncle who has spent much of his life fighting for the secessionist Tamil Tigers. As he lies on his deathbed, she explores the story of her family.
The physical fragmentation of Sri Lanka is reflected in the novel’s structure, a series of vignettes about the family’s marriages, some arranged and some for love, spanning three generations – and as many continents.
Yalini’s parents fled Sri Lanka for America, and now she must confront her own Tamil identity. The struggle with old traditions faced by a new generation growing up in the west is familiar territory. But Ganeshananthan, who shares her narrator’s background, has created a slow-burning and beautifully written debut in Love Marriage. It is an evocative examination of Sri Lankan cultural mores, and the way one family is affected by love and war.