This novel set in Ceylon follows the lives of a handful of villagers hacking out a fragile existence in a jungle where indiscriminate growth, indifferent fate and malevolent neighbours constantly threaten to overwhelm them. It is as if Thomas Hardy were immersed in the heat, scent, sensuality and pungent mystery of the tropics.
Seven years as a colonial administrator gave Woolf firsthand knowledge of the injustice of colonial rule, and an acute psychological sympathy with the villagers. He skillfully incorporates local story-telling traditions and beliefs into his chilling narrative, to create a book which remains one of the best-loved in Sri Lanka to this day.
As recommended in the Slightly Foxed podcast, Episode 8: Leaving that Place called Home.