'The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida' Wins With Supernatural Satire
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka's second book, won the 2022 Booker Prize for Sri Lanka. Judges complimented "The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida" for its "ambition of its scope and the comic daring of its narrative tactics," which came 10 years after Karunatilaka's prize-winning novel "Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew." Following Michael Ondaatje's triumph for "The English Patient" in 1992, Karunatilaka, 47, is the second Sri Lankan to get the honour. Beyond the £50,000 ($56,000) award, winning the Booker may alter a career by boosting sales and public attention.
The 2022 Booker Prize shortlist consists of six novels selected from a longlist of thirteen books. As stated on the Booker website, it also features "authors from five nations and a plethora of wonderful fiction," as well as the shortest book and oldest author ever nominated. At the Roundhouse in London, on October 17, the winner was declared. The company also bestows a different award, known as the International Booker Prize, for a piece of fiction that has been translated into English. The Indian author Geetanjali Shree's book Tomb of Sand, which was translated into English by Daisy Rockwell, received the 2022 prize in June. The debut book by Karunatilaka, Chinaman, was awarded the Commonwealth Prize and was selected for the BBC and The Reading Agency's Big Jubilee Read last year. Prior to the London award ceremony, The Booker had not hosted a significant in-person event since 2019. She delivered the award at the broadcast ceremony, making it one of Queen Consort Camilla's most well-known appearances since her husband King Charles III ascended to the throne last month.
The winning novel by Karunatilaka took a while to write. Chinaman happened ten years ago. His deft use of craft to convey this intricate tale is evidence that great novels require the time they require to write—a fact that all authors are aware of but that publishers aren't always willing to accept. Karunatilaka has been active in those ten years, though, not just producing literary fiction but also writing for young readers and starting a family. The 47-year-old has two children and is married.
The Booker Prize-winning book chronicles the tale of the titular photographer, who in 1990 finds himself dead in what appears to be a celestial visa office. Maali has seven moons to get in touch with the people he cares about the most and direct them to a secret stash of images documenting crimes committed during Sri Lanka's civil conflict without knowing who killed him. The closet queen, gambler, and war photographer Maali Almeida has awoken dead in what appears to be a celestial visa office. He is unaware of his killer as his severed body sinks in the tranquil Beira lake. The list of suspects is depressingly large in a period when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired thugs, as the ghosts and goblins with grudges who gather nearby can confirm. Maali's time is running out, even in the afterlife. In order to guide them to a hidden cache of photographs that will upend Sri Lanka, he has seven moons to attempt and connect with the ones he loves the most. Shehan Karunatilaka has returned with a mordantly humorous, stinging satire ten years after his acclaimed novel Chinaman made him one of Sri Lanka's leading writers. State-of-the-nation epic The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is another example of how the best fiction reveals the ultimate reality.
Kurt Vonnegut's style of grim humour, which makes the intolerable bearable, and Karunatilaka's debt to him have been regularly repaid. The 47-year-old expressed his hopes for the novel's afterlife after winning, making him only the second Sri Lankan-born author (after Michael Ondaatje) to receive the prestigious award: To be abandoned as political satire and consigned instead to fantasy; to be remembered as noir, from whose horrors his country has awakened to a brand-new day.
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