The Seven Moons of Maali Ameida


❝ I was reading The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida while struggling night after night with very little sleep – awake for hours at a time in the early hours of the morning while endeavouring to get through a book about a soul caught ‘In Between’. Well let’s just say everything was starting to feel quite tangled and confused.

The struggle in getting through this book sat entirely with me and my sleep-deprived brain and is not a reflection of what is a completing engaging, yet devastating, storyline. 

There is something extremely powerful about a book written about war where humour is used so adroitly and regularly. It gives the reader breathing room and space and makes the interspersion of extreme cruelty and suffering even more shocking.

All of the characters, whether alive or dead, are imperfect. Some are evil with no redeeming features and others are just regular and flawed, but doing the best they can in what feels like a time of very little hope.

There is one particular moment where the narrator directly addressed me as a reader and my own world. It was unsettling and effective and added to my sense of confusion and blurriness while reading this book.

As I journeyed through the In Between with Maali Almeida I felt sadness and I was entertained. Overwhelmingly it is the sense of the hopelessness of war that has sat with me upon completion of this book. Shehan Karunatilaka has done a stunning job and I would be delighted if this one took out the Booker. – Suzy 

In all this madness, there is only one beast whose existence you doubt. And you are not thinking of God, also known as Whoever. You are thinking of that most impossible of all mythical creatures: the Honest Politician.

❝ A war photographer dies in 1990 during the Sri Lankan civil war and is caught inbetween life and the afterlife. He has seven days, or seven moons, to discover who killed him, ensure a series of important photographs he has taken are discovered, and to reach ‘the light’. A ghostly guide assists him in connecting with the living as he pursues his answers.

The narrative uses a second person POV, with Maali Ameida’s ghost reminding himself of what his life entailed, which was mainly photographing war scenes ‘burned homes, dead children”, gambling and sexual encounters.

This book is serious, ghostly and satirically funny. It covers off war, murder, art, politics, sexuality, and justice. It is a big book full of big ideas and takes you on a journey through Sri Lanka’s history and colourful landscape of people.

I did like it, but there are so many characters and so many events and I was in a Bookerthon reading rush. I think if I had read this first and slowed up a bit I might have gleaned more from it, but instead it was last off the rank for me. So, in the end, it turns out I’m not as enamoured with it as I know so many other readers and bloggers are.


Published 2022
Sort of Books
386 pages

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