A Novel

The internationally celebrated (and Booker Prize–shortlisted) author returns with a dazzling coming-of-age story set in post-independence Sri Lanka

“A masterly storyteller.” —The New York Times

Ceylon is on the brink of change. But young Kairo is at loose ends. School is closed, the government is in disarray, the press is under threat, and the religious right are flexing their muscles. Kairo’s hardworking mother blows off steam at her cha-cha-cha classes; his Trotskyist father grumbles over the state of the nation between his secret bets on horse races in faraway England. All Kairo wants to do is hide in his room and flick through secondhand westerns and superhero comics, or escape on his bicycle and daydream.

Then he meets the magnetic teenage Jay, and his whole world is turned inside out.

A budding naturalist and a born rebel, Jay keeps fish and traps birds for an aviary he is building in the garden of his grand home. As Jay guides Kairo from the realm of make-believe into one of hunting guns and fast cars and introduces him to a girl—Niromi—Kairo begins to understand the price of privilege and embarks on a journey of devastating consequence.

Taut and luminous, graceful and wild, Suncatcher is a poignant coming-of-age novel about difficult friendships and sudden awakenings set among the tumult of
1960s Sri Lanka, that confirms Gunesekera’s status as one of today’s most lyrical writers.



“An enchanting novel. . . . [It] calls to mind the early chapters of Brideshead Revisited . . . [and offers a] magical evocation of a world where it seems that everything should remain as it is, while you know sadly, that it can’t and won’t.”
—Allan Massie, The Scotsman
“A gripping novel about [a] country on the brink. . . . Harking back to the 1960s in a period piece suffused with foreboding, Gunesekera captures the first rumblings of the cataclysm.”
—Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times (London)
“As a coming-of-age novel, Suncatcher is memorable and sometimes brilliant in its ability to map the tensions between leader and follower, the arc and trajectory of boys trying so impatiently to become men. This is also a wise and poignant portrait of a country—Ceylon before it became Sri Lanka—caught in the moment before it loses its innocence.”
Financial Times
“Gunesekera’s prose is lush yet luminously clear, and Kairo—as he deciphers the world around him and his place in that world—is the perfect guide to the book’s turbulent setting.”
Boston Globe
“A lyrical and evocative portrait of a Sri Lankan boyhood friendship and the life lessons that came with it.”
Kirkus Reviews
“[An] engrossing coming-of-age tale. . . . Gunesekera successfully captures an adolescent’s cravings for a wealthy lifestyle and the ensuing loss of innocence in the face of tumult. This will move readers.”
Publishers Weekly
“Gunesekera’s latest is an entrancing examination of how we are marked by our earliest friendships and how, even in the closest relationships, it is difficult to know if those we love are capable of loving us back.”

News and Reviews

In the Studio

Listen to this episode of the BBC podcast In the Studio to get a behind the scenes glimpse of Romesh Gunesekera‘s writing of Suncatcher.

Suncatcher Playlist

Listen to Romesh Gunesekeras soundtrack to Suncatcher with a playlist shared on the blog largehearted boy.

Book Excerpt

Read an excerpt from Romesh Gunesekera‘s coming-of-age novel Suncatcher, set in 1960s Sri Lanka.

Kirkus Reviews

Read a review of Suncatcher in Kirkus Reviews

Books by Romesh Gunesekera


Romesh Gunesekera

Noontide Toll

Romesh Gunesekera

The Match
A Novel

Romesh Gunesekera

Monkfish Moon
Short Stories

Romesh Gunesekera

Goodreads Reviews