Some books attempt to be more than just an interesting read, some try to use the language of the story to make it more three dimensional than otherwise possible. An attempt to get the reader to feel as if they are right in the middle of it all. This is what Akil Kumarasamy attempt to do with Half Gods.
To write what you know is an age-old mantra for any writer, and many of the most famous ones have done just that. It is what allows readers to connect with them on a very deep level. Such things also allow a writer to introduce the readers to a world they might not be familiar with otherwise. This has been the case with William Saroyan, Amy Tan and David Kherdian, all of them finding success by telling tales of a world not known to all, about alienation, personal tragedy and belonging to a culture within another culture.
Very much like Kherdian Kumarasamy does this in a very poetic manner. Splitting the book into several interconnected short stories, all of them centered around two brothers and their destiny. All in all these ten short stories detail their journeys around the world, often times harkened back to the civil war in Sri Lanka. Every once in a while an old legend is sprinkled in between as a centerpiece.
While this part of our history, the human consequences of the war, hasn’t been detailed enough the story in itself is told in too poetic a fashion for it to become interesting. This is, unfortunately, the heart of the issue of Half Gods. Kumarasamy is a good writer and her language is of a kind that is easy to read and beautiful, but the content is quite uninteresting. It has nothing to do with the broken chronology or the subject matter. It is in the delivery. It does not matter how well you write, or how tragic the event. If there is no central plot to each short story there will be nothing to keep the reader interested in it. Where is the conflict?
There is no doubt that Kumarasamy’s work is interesting in its own way. That there is a story to be told, but in the end, it is just a list of things happening that lacks a plotline to keep one wanting to read on.