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Tamarind Sky
By (author): Thelma Wheatley
Thelma Wheatley


Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Oct 15, 2020
$22.95 CAD


8.25in x 5.5 x 0.45 in | 350 gr

Page Count:

412 pages
Inanna Publications
Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series
FICTION / Family Life / General
Family life fiction|Generational sagas|Historical fiction|c 1960 to c 1969|Relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) peoples
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

When British immigrant Selena Jones marries Aidan Gilmor, a Sinhalese-Eurasian -- part British -- from Sri Lanka in the 1960s in Toronto, a passionate clash of culture ensues. Selena's mother in Wales is horrified when Selena brings Aidan home to Wales for the wedding. Back in Toronto, Selena faces further prejudice and disapproval of her "mixed marriage," despite Pierre Elliott Trudeau's new "multiculturalism," which was being encouraged but also resented. She is shocked not only by the reaction of neighbours but by the teachers at the all-White school in Toronto where she teaches, and she pretends that Aidan is a White Canadian. When two poor West Indian and two East Indian children from a new government housing project nearby unexpectedly arrive at the school, Selena is forced to take a stand in their defence. Gradually she learns to face her fears and confront racism. She is drawn into a deeper understanding of her Sri Lankan family, and especially of her father-in-law, a former tea planter under the British, who left Ceylon after Independence in 1956. She sees the effect of colonialism on Aidan and his family, trying to be "British" while caught in the middle of the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka. The revelation of her father-in-law's secret guilt about the past leads to an inevitable and shocking climax.

Grand-daughter of a Welsh coal-miner, Thelma Wheatley immigrated to Canada in her twenties to teach, and obtained her Master's degree in English at York University. She married a Sri Lankan in the 1960s when "mixed" marriages were frowned upon. Wheatley bonded closely with her Eurasian Sri Lankan in-laws in Toronto, who were part of the British colonial empire in Ceylon (later, Sri Lanka. She is the author of award-winning And Neither Have I Wings To Fly: Labelled and Locked Up in Canada's Oldest Institution (2013), which was short-listed for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2014 among other awards. Her first book was about her autistic son, My Sad Is All Gone: A Family's Triumph Over Violent Autism (2004). Tamarind Sky is her debut novel.

"With its stunning portrayal of tea plantations in the higher elevations of Sri Lanka, Tamarind Sky takes the reader on a journey from British colonial times to the present, vividly documenting the vast world of tea cultivation, and quietly celebrating the history, beauty, and culture of Sri Lanka. An elegant and fascinating book."
&mdsah;Ananda Fernando, Director of Maskeliya Tea Plantations, Maskeliya, Adam's Peak Area, Sri Lanka

"Thelma Wheatley's Tamarind Sky is a master class in the social history of forgotten yet recent times. In a tale that centres on family love and the immigrant experience, Wheatley has skilfully captured the searing ugliness of racism in Ontario (1967-1989) and Ceylon (1947-1956). Her portrayals of time and place on each continent are riveting. Tamarind Sky is a compelling read about colonialism, its aftermath, and the human spirit's will to survive and overcome."
--Bonnie Lendrum, author of Autumn's Grace

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