Retired sportswriter WG Karunasena is dying. He will spend his final months drinking arrack, making his wife unhappy, ignoring his son and tracking down Pradeep S. Mathew, a spin bowler who has mysteriously disappeared and who WG considers ‘the greatest cricketer to walk the earth’. On his quest to find this unsung genius, WG uncovers a coach with six fingers, a secret bunker below a famous stadium, a Tamil Tiger warlord, and startling truths about Sri Lanka, cricket and himself. Ambitious, playful and strikingly original, Chinaman is a novel about cricket and Sri Lanka – and the story of modern day Sri Lanka through its most cherished sport. Hailed by the Gratiaen Prize judges as ‘one of the most imaginative works of contemporary Sri Lankan fiction’, it is an astounding book.
'The strength of the book lies in its energy, its mixture of humour and heartwrenching emotion, its twisting narrative, its playful use of cricketing facts and characters, and its occasional blazing anger about what Sri Lanka has done to itself ... if the sweetest sound you've ever heard is leather on willow, if some of the most exciting moments of your life have consisted of watching a five-day match end in a draw, if the most important question around the partition of the subcontinent is "who would have made it into Undivided India's cricket team in any era?", if your mind keeps returning to that one extraordinary spell by a bowler (say, Mohammad Zahid to Brian Lara at the Gabba, 1997) ... then this book could be the best thing to happen to your life since the Ashes/World Cup/away series win against the best team in the world' - Kamila Shamsie, Guardian
'Karunatilaka has a real lightness of touch. He mixes humour and violence with the same deftness with which his protagonist mixes drinks ...What is most remarkable about this novel... is how fact and fiction are manipulated ... is a great novel, and it is most certainly Sri Lankan' - Tishani Doshi, Observer
'A Great Cricket Novel. For a game without much great fiction, that's a reason to applaud with drums - and forget the rules the marshals impose at Lord's' - Salil Tripathi, Independent
'It's funny and original, extremely revealing about Sri Lanka, and as for the cricket, in the author's own words: "If you can't understand why anyone would watch, let alone obsess over this dull game, then this is the book for you." Brilliant' - Kate Saunders, The Times