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by Roma Tearne
HarperCollins Canada and UK; Europa Editions, USA (forthcoming US edition to be released July 2008)

Judges' Citation: Painterly yet mysterious, historical but infused with deep myths of vision, love, estrangement, and reconciliation, Mosquito stands as a first novel of enormous appeal. It gives us the Sri Lanka of the headlines even as it takes us into the heart of stories that lurk before history, just outside our range of sight. It is an ambitious and affecting debut by a promising new talent.

Book Description:

Set adrift by the recent death of his wife, Theo Samarajeeva abandons his comfortable writer’s life in London and returns to Sri Lanka, his homeland. Within the protective confines of his beach house outside of Colombo, and under the watchful eye of his loyal servant, Sugi, he attempts to finish his latest novel, though the threat of violence lurks just beyond his door.

Meanwhile, Nulani, a mysterious and artistically talented young woman, installs herself on Theo’s veranda and begins to paint him, capturing in her vivid portraits a man in search of redemption. As an unorthodox and tenuous love blossoms between this unlikely pair, Sri Lanka’s simmering civil war creeps ominously close, threatening to destroy their fragile happiness. Just when Nulani feels, for the first time in years, that she is loved, and Theo begins to believe he has a future, the terror of war spreads across the nation, converting ordinary citizens into enemy combatants and outsiders into tools for blackmail. In this climate of chaos, both Nulani and Theo must call upon their memories and their art to survive. Set against the tableau of the Sri Lankan conflict between the Tamils and the Singhalese, and sweeping from Sri Lanka to Venice and London, Mosquito is an emotionally charged, unforgettable story that illuminates the power of love and memory. Author and artist Roma Tearne, who fled Sri Lanka when she was young, unflinchingly captures the menace of war while at the same time imbuing her spellbinding work with immense humanity and moral vision. (Source:

Roma Tearne, who is also an artist, was born in Sri Lanka. She completed her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art and was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She was recently awarded a fellowship in the visual arts by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain. Her work is characterized by themes of history, memory and the intersection of cultures. Mosquito is her first novel. Roma Tearne lives in Oxford, England.


"Roma Tearne's first novel of love and war is...a heart-rending story...and one of the first to expose the horror and misunderstandings of a civil war that seems to have no end and is taxing the fragile survival of a beautiful island paradise. Readers of this powerful novel cannot fail to be moved...but they will also realize that, as well as being a rebuke to indifference, the book is also about hope and survival." — Christopher Ondaatje in The Spectator (London)

"Mosquito shimmers with evocative prose but it also resonates with the darkness of men's cruelty. This is not a thriller, but the tension is palpable. " — The Courier Mail (Australia)

"[A] lovely, vividly described novel...[set] against a background of lush scenery and looming civil war." — The Times (London)

"Mosquito is a beautifully moving, suspense-filled story about unlikely lovers that's gripping from start to finish. Set in Sri Lanka, it tells of a bittersweet romance between a young artist and a writer, a relationship that slowly becomes entangled in the mess of the local civil war. Tearne's ethereal descriptions of the Sri Lankan coastline and the powerful accounts of a country ripped apart by violence make for an emotional and exceptional novel."
Easy Living Magazine (UK)


Read a review of Mosquito in WaterBridge Review.

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