Colombo is in the throes of an explosion. Its face changes continuously, its vices are legion, its future as yet obscure and its paths speak of sunlight as well as of shadow.-' Carl Muller begins his quasi-fictional portrait of this beautiful, war-torn city by describing the great battles fought over it by European colonizers-. In AD 1505, a Portuguese fleet blown off-course took shelter in Galle, overthrew the local kings, fortified Colombo and decided to stay. The Dutch came along, ousted the Portuguese, made Colombo their capital and ruled till the British arrived and sent them packing. Muller intersperses the tales of the past into descriptions of the battles that are being fought in Colombo today"political battles in which vested interests play a major role as well as battles fought on the individual level in the struggle to survive: young women and children turning to prostitution to earn an extra buck, people begging in the streets to make ends meet, unemployed young men turning to crime in frustration, students demonstrating against atrocities, lovers pining for nightfall in order to push away loneliness if only for a few moments... Written in Muller's lucid style, Colombo: A Novel is a chronicle of a city's trials and triumphs.
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