The Story of a Brief Marriage

brief marriage.jpg

Set over the course of one day in a coastal refugee camp, The Story of a Brief Marriage follows Dinesh, a young man who has lost his family in the violence of the Sri Lankan civil war. This short novel opens with Dinesh aiding a boy who has been maimed in the near-constant shelling. As he works in the camp’s overburdened medical clinic, Dinesh is approached by an old man who has an unusual favor to ask — whether Dinesh will marry his daughter, Ganga. This sudden marriage would provide some small measure of safety for both of them, as it might prevent conscription for Dinesh and lessen the risk of assault for Ganga.

Brought together by horrific circumstance and cautious to invest too much emotion in their new relationship, Ganga and Dinesh slowly begin to open up to one another. A heartbreaking and beautiful book, The Story of a Brief Marriage explores loss, violence, and the power of discovering a purpose amid the chaos of war.

“In order to keep moving people were forced to relinquish their vehicles, and with them also all the belongings they had brought so far and at such cost. In states of varying disbelief they cooked their chickens and threw away the cages, piled whatever they could onto the backs of motorbikes or three-wheelers, and continued moving as fast as they could. When for lack of fuel these too had to be abandoned they took only what they could fit inside bags that could be slung around their shoulders or carried by hand, money and jewelry, deeds, IDs, and photographs, medicine, food, and cooking things, nobody knowing what exactly was most important, and what they would regret leaving behind. Instead of throwing away nice clothes for lack of space some people simply put them on, so that moving wearily among the endless throng of people, passing blindly all the bodies and belongings abandoned along the muddy roads, from time to time women could be seen wearing bright, colorful saris, green, gold, and magenta, as if returning from a wedding or celebration that had not gone according to plan.”

Anuk Arudpragasam was raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka and now lives in New York. The Story of a Brief Marriage is his first novel.

Published: 2016
Length: 208 pages
Set in: Sri Lanka