Upon a Sleepless Aisle by Andrew Fidel Fernando

Dense green forests in Yala, white-sand coasts in Trincomalee, azure waters off the South Coast, Anuradhapura’s ancient temples, and cricket. Civil war, political assassinations, internally displaced communities, industrial-scale corruption. All is Sri Lanka. As are smug bureaucrats, nosy neighbours, and stray dogs with serious axes to grind. 

Through the eyes of Andrew Fidel Fernando, cricket writer par excellence, both a local and a tourist in his home country, Sri Lanka comes alive as he hurtles downhills in Kandy, breathes in the history at the rock fortress of Sigiriya, grapples with the aftermath of the war in Jaffna, and has himself evicted from restaurants near Galle. Weaving through all manner of villages, paddy fields, mountains, jungles and marshlands, and pausing for the pests at grimy guesthouses and the vacationers of luxury hotels, Fernando has the time for every genre of person and wildlife in this chaotic, exquisite, frustrating, and bewitching land. Hilariously witty yet wistfully sombre, Upon a Sleepless Isle is the story of a country and a people caught between long historical traditions and global capitalism, resulting in this ingenious paradise.

From a well-known sports journalist and one of ESPNcricinfo’s lead writers, enjoy a satirical travelogue on Sri Lanka like no other! Join Andrew Fidel Fernando as he travels the length of Sri Lanka (with his fair share of adventures in between), only to take the island apart from the inside, exposing both its grandeur and its flaws. 

As an outsider, this book will be everything you need to know about the country, in all its glory. As a local, however, you’ll definitely have a fond and relatable appreciation of various aspects of this book- from the author’s witty commentary of government procedures to the unparalleled public transport experience. 

From unreliable bus rides, being chased by strays, stays at dubious guesthouses, crashing in a tuk-tuk while careening down the roads of Kandy and other anecdotal tales stemming from his multicultural family experience, Upon a Sleepless Isle goes far beyond the major attractions of the island. Rest assured, this is an entertaining and picturesque read that covers the country’s sunny coasts, the crumbling ruins, the lush forests and the exotic wildlife within, but it will also expose our beloved culture and community (idiosyncrasies and all!). All we can say is, the author definitely knows his history!

This travelogue will definitely have you going “Ah, Sri Lanka!” in both pride and exasperation. Prepare to let lose a few snorts of laughter as you’re taken on this haphazard adventure across Sri Lanka and also expect to unearth some nuggets of lesser-known information on some of Sri Lanka’s most famous sites and figures!

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Author: Deana Claessen
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