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Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born novelist and film maker living in the UK. She left Sri Lanka with her family, at the start of the civil unrest during the 1960s. She trained as a painter & filmmaker at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford and then was Leverhulme artist in residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Subsequently she was awarded an AHRC Fellowship and worked for three years in museums around Europe on a project accessing narrative within the collections.
She has written six novels. Her fifth, The Road To Urbino was published by Little Brown in June 2012 to coincide with the premier of her film of that name at the National Gallery in London. She has been short-listed for the Costa, the Kirimaya & LA Times book prize and long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011 and, in 2012, the Asian Man Booker. Her sixth novel, The Last Pier, will be out in April 2015 from Hesperus Press.
Author photo © Alistair Tearne
The Second World War looms and young, curious Cecily desperately wants to know her 16-year old sister’s secret. But there is a lot more she wants to know too. Why is her mother’s sister, Kitty, always staying on their Suffolk farm? Who is the sinister stranger Robert Wilson? Where does her sister go as she climbs out of her window at night? Then her charred remains are found on the burnt out pier and strangely Cecily feels it is somehow her fault. The poetic narrative flits between past, present and future most effectively. The lyrical prose allows the reader to feel the tension and dismay building up to the approaching war. We also follow an Italian family who own the local ice-cream parlour and their fears of the future. The plot is full of secrets which Cecily tries to uncover with devastating results. Highly recommended.
One of the 20 Longlisted titles for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011. October 2010 Book of the Month. A tale of romance and Sri Lankan politics from the author of Brixton Beach. It is rather pessimistic and tragic and yet despite that is richly satisfying. Almost everything imaginable happens to or has happened to the few characters. There's the loss of a parent, a hatred of siblings, an illicit affair, bigotry, insanity, hopeless love, political upheaval, suicide, and more, all portrayed in a light, simplistic style. In short, it's a gripping, captivating novel about love, loss and what home really means. Comparison: Rani Manicka, Tash Aw, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Featured on The TV Book Club on More4 on 28 February 2010. Beginning with the July 2005 London bombings this fascinating and enthralling novel draws you in from the start. In the midst of the panic unravelling in London as a young doctor searches frantically for someone we are transported back to Sri Lanka some 30 years ago to where the story really begins. A beautifully written and eloquently told story of love, family and war.
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2007.Costa Book Awards 2007 Judges' comment: "A compelling story set in war torn Sri Lanka - poignant, exquisitely told and a captivating view of unusual love and survival."