Colpetty People by Ashok Ferrey

Category: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Rights: World rights available (excluding Indian subcontinent)

In this extraordinary debut, Ashok Ferry chronicles, in a gently probing voice, the journeys of characters seeking something beyond the barriers of nations and generations. His tales of social-climbing Sri Lankans, of the pathos of immigration, of rich people with poor taste, of ice-cream karma, of innocent love, eternity, and more take us to Colombo’s nouveau riche, hoity-toity returnees, ladies with buttery skin and square fingernails, old-fashioned aristocrats, and the poor mortals trapped between them. Ferry’s stories comprise characters that are ‘serious and fine and upstanding, and infinitely dull’, but also others like young John-John, who loses his childhood somewhere ‘high up in the air between Asmara and Rome’; the maid, Agnes of God, whose mango-sucking teeth ‘fly out at you like bats out of the mouth of a cave’; Ashoka, the immigrant who embodies his Sri Lankan identity only on the bus ride between home and work; and Professor Jayaweera who finds sterile freedoms caged in the ‘unbending, straight lines of Western Justice’. Absurd, sad, scathing and generous, but mostly wickedly funny, Colpetty People presents modern Sri Lankans as they navigate worlds between Ceylon and the West.

The author: Ashok Ferrey