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July 22 , 2007

Cyril of Serendip

A Novel of Sri Lanka


Cyril Siresena is an Oxford-educated attorney who heads the leading law firm in Colombo. Though his background is Sinhalese Buddhist, Cyril is westernized and secular. He has never regretted recruiting a Tamil Hindu partner into the firm. VK Sivaratnam is a hard-working lawyer who shares a close friendship with Cyril.

As Cyril begins to rediscover his Sinhalese Buddhist roots and reject the identity of brown Englishman, he embarks on a quest for authenticity that is soon complicated when he falls in love with Sita, VK’s wife. Meanwhile, the climate around them is one of growing ethnic conflict as tension increases between the Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority. But when Sinhalese extremists begin launching violent attacks on the Tamils, suddenly VK and Sita are in fear for their lives.

In the midst of the deadliest violence in Sri Lanka’s history, Cyril must do everything in his power to rescue his partner and the woman he adores from those intent on destroying their world forever.

Donald E. Smith’s Cyril of Serendip: A Novel of Sri Lanka is an enjoyable and perceptive work of fiction that captures extremely well the sociopolitical atmosphere of the early years of political independence. The novel is an authentic portrayal of struggles, both individual and societal, to forge identity based on conflicting visions of the Sri Lankan past. The story impinges on the contemporary in significant ways.

—Tissa Jayatilaka, Executive Director, United States–Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission
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