I have heard many silly taunts in my extensive time, and they are never more clever just because they rhyme. Ignorance should whisper like a muffled chime. I am not proud though you are too proud to see that when the Grand Bungler created you it also created me. I am not mighty or dreadful. I do not overthrow. Those are your birthmarks. You are your foe. Poison, war are a scaly brood for which I have no need. They hatched in the nest with you, and you are the fodder on which they feed. Chance is a monkey whose mischief ends at the tomb. Fate and sickness are encrypted when you are in the womb. You are the slave of desperate men and kings, who look like lice to me - or other insects without wings. I am a lantern at the end of day. I am not the Magnificent Fumbler, who gave you feeble DNA. I bring peace after you have done your worst, and while I may eventually die, you will die first. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
In 2022 Shehan Karunatilaka won the Booker Prize for The Seven Moons of Maali Ameida. Hi ho. The book is bizarre in all the best ways.
It’s 1990 in Sri Lanka. Maali Almeida is a photographer, gambler, and self-described slut. He’s also a journalist and homosexual, so he has lots of enemies. And because Sri Lanka is in the middle of a civil war, it’s easy for a photo-journalist to die. It’s also easy for a homosexual to die – but not for the same reasons.
And what do you know? It’s page 1 and Maali is already dead. The after-life is a hellscape filled with demons, ghouls, ghosts, and bureaucrats who claim they want to help you. It’s just like the “living” world only worse.
Maali has no idea who killed him, why, or how he died. He has seven days (or seven moons) to figure it all out. Then he needs to decide what he’ll do next. To paraphrase The Clash: should he stay or should he go? Does his decision matter? Does anything matter? Yes, obviously, The Clash matters. Stay focused.
Seven Moons is impossible to categorize. It’s historical fiction in how it describes the Sri Lankan civil war. It’s a love letter to the Sri Lankan people traumatized by that war. It’s a satire on religion. It’s a parody lampooning people who try to change society through violence. It’s a deadly-serious comedy, and it succeeds regardless of the category you put it in.
But mostly, the story is a delight because, as flawed as Maali is, he is honest when it counts. Even though he lies to nearly everyone, he never lies to himself or the reader. He’s also brave, even when it’s not smart to be. When he is told his photos are gruesome, he responds “then maybe people should stop doing gruesome things.”
If Karunatilaka resembles any writer, it’s Kurt Vonnegut. At one time people read him. Maybe, with Seven Moons‘ deserved success, people will start reading Vonnegut again. If so, that would be another great thing about Maali Almeida.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
I am Titmouse Beak . . . but you all know that . . . your president . . . probably the greatest president ever . . . of Pungent Sound Community Bank . . . it’s astounding news I bring, I am running in the 2024 election of the Sexiest Person . . . you know how sexy I am – no one sexier . . . maybe Beyonce . . . probably not . . . in the World, which includes wherever it is you live . . . Please don’t tell me. I don’t care.
If you vote for me, I promise to pardon any penalties or late fees . . . so awful, so tough for you average people . . . so unfair . . . you have incurred on any debt owed to Pungent Sound Community Bank . . . prior to January 21, 2021.
Tengo Leche: Why wait? Can’t you just do that now.
Yes, but that’s not how promises work . . . not really, because the bank’s board . . . it is really the worst board ever . . . so disappointing . . . they hate capitalism . . . such a great a system, so fair to everyone . . . the board voted your president out of office effective January 21, 2021 . . . such a sad day . . . people on rooftops crying . . . beautiful big fat tears . . . like huge boobs . . . so beautiful . . . I counted all the votes, and all the votes I counted were for me . . . fraudulent board, so sad . . . I won by a landslide, a beautiful landslide . . . you should have seen how beautiful.
Tengo Leche: Why didn’t you just pardon all those borrowers back in January – like on January 19, 2021. When you had the power to do so?
I was going to . . . so close . . . I really was . . . my presidential pen was in my hand . . . I was playing with it . . . so much fun . . . in my hand . . . which are big, folks – big hands . . . no problems down there, my friends, trust me . . . Manicures are beautiful . . . everyone should get them . . . Sexy . . . 2024 Sexiest Person Who Has Ever Lived . . . Vote often.
Tengo Leche: But if you do pardon them in 2024, won’t it be too late? Your borrowers will have paid all those late fees and penalties by then or their homes will be foreclosed on and their cars repossessed?
No, no. Never too late . . . And, you know . . . the board was very mean to me . . . your president . . . very mean . . . Made me charge those late fees and penalties . . . that’s funny . . . How would fees know if they’re late? . . . They have no watches . . . Can’t tell time . . . but I don’t pay late fees . . . never . . . only suckers and losers do that . . . So should they be pardoned? . . . I don’t know. Maybe not . . . Perhaps I’m too nice . . . And beautiful . . . They’re not beautiful . . . But sexy is beautiful. 2024. Sexiest Person in Uranus . . . Vote often.