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Read With Us: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida Discussion Time

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It’s time to discuss our summer selection, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. I read this book way back in May and, while I had plans to refresh myself by listening to it this month, life (and death) and Covid got in the way of that. So, I’m depending on my memory and my review when it comes to today’s discussion.

This is the review I shared on GoodReads when I first finished the book:

It is not Good vs Evil out here. It is varying degrees of bad, squabbling with conglomerates of the wicked.
I had mixed reactions to this book. At the onset, I loved it and found it reminiscent of Lincoln in the Bardo. And then I was bored and distracted by trying to understand a political climate and time in history of Sri Lanka that I knew nothing about. And then I became caught up in the story and theme yet again. I’ve thought about it many times since finishing it and think it may have been the case of a great book at the wrong time for me. I will say this: the writing is gorgeous and captures an incredible range of emotions. It’s tragic and raw, and the humanity of it all is heartbreaking.

I still stand by that review and I’m guessing that after this post today and our discussion tonight I will wind up remembering even more that I liked about this book.

For today’s post, I’d like to think about Maali’s progression as a character and the trajectory of his life, death, and afterlife. He grapples with his various personal flaws, such as his gambling addiction and his struggle with commitment. However, he keeps evolving and learning. Do you think Maali finally finds redemption and self-acceptance in his afterlife? What do you think about the choices he makes in trying to get his photographs published posthumously and his decision to become a Helper?

Feel free to answer these questions in the comments today or save your thoughts for tonight’s discussion. As always, check out Bonny’s blog and Kym’s blog as they will be posing their own questions about the book. And thanks, once again, for Reading With Us!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I think this is one of those books that can reveal more each time you read it. The first time I read it (a year ago), I found it really hard to keep track of all the political stuff, and I think that distracted me a bit from the story. This time, I knew that I was never going to understand all the political backstory, so I just focused on Maali, and I think I gained more appreciation of the book as a result. I saw a lot more growth in Maali this time, and where he ended up at the end felt so much more right this time around.

  2. I hope that Maali finds acceptance in his afterlife… I liked him very much… flaws and all!

    I, too, found myself struggling a bit trying to remember anything at all about the Sri Lankan civil war… my memories are of horrific news reporting. I think the thing that this book shows is the battle of bad versus more bad. But the political bit, I entirely missed in the news of the 80’s… and that journey in this book were the most eye-opening for me. And I think that Maali’s posthumous journey to get the truth out was the best part of this book!

    All that being said, this book did another thing… it made me want to know more about this slice of history. I read V.V. Ganeshananthan’s Brotherless Night and it helped put more pieces of the puzzle together. While I liked Maali very much, I loved Brotherless Night.

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