A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage Missing neither the nuances of the peaceful Buddhist pace of life nor the explosive violence of its protracted civil war and the 2004 tsunami, Adele Barker offers an eye-opening account of the "pearl" of the Indian Ocean, inviting American readers to experience firsthand the vivid beauty and turmoil of a place few have ever visited.
A chronicle of life on the resplendent island, combining the immediacy of memoir with the vividness of travelogue and reportage
Adele Barker and her son, Noah, settled into the central highlands of Sri Lanka for an eighteen-month sojourn, immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of the island-its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hot curries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They hear stories of the island's colorful past and its twenty-five-year civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil Tigers. When, having returned home to Tucson, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island's southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must go back. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed forty-eight thousand Sri Lankans in the space of twenty minutes, and reports from the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicles life in a place few have ever visited.
Adele Marie Barker is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies at the University of Arizona. She is the author of The Mother Syndrome in the Russian Folk Imagination and coeditor of Dialogues/Dialogi: Literary and Cultural Exchanges between (Ex)Soviet and American Women, also published by Duke University Press.
"Rich in the tales of Sri Lanka under colonial British rule as well as coverage of the current civil war, Barker's memoir is an enlightening and captivating read."--Kristine Huntley, Booklist "Anyone going to Sri Lanka should consider Adele Barker's Not Quite Paradise essential reading. Even travelers headed to other parts of the globe--or those going no farther than their own living room--will find this story of an American woman thoughtfully wending her way through the complexities of another country's culture and history fascinating."--Kristin Ohlson, author of Stalking the Divine and coauthor of Kabul Beauty School
"Adele Barker offers this memorable gift: the story of strangers from very different countries becoming cherished and enduring friends. Against the background of a most beautiful country and through the tragedies that have marred its recent history, her love of the land and for its people won a high place in this reader's heart."--Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
For many people step dance is associated with the Irish step-dance stage show, Riverdance, which assisted in both promoting the dance form and in placing Ireland globally. But the practice and contexts of step dance are much more complicated and fluid than this. Step dance may be performed informally by friends and neighbours or in formally structured classes; dancers may be young or old, male or female; and costumes range from highly elaborate stage dress to ordinary everyday wear. Catherine Foley tells the story of this dance from its roots in eighteenth-century Ireland to its modern global appeal. Focusing on one rural European community in North Kerry on the west coast of Ireland, she examines three step-dance: the rural Molyneaux step-dance practice, representing the end of a relatively long system of teaching by itinerant dancing masters in the region; the urbanized staged, competition orientated practice, cultivated by the cultural nationalist movement, the Gaelic League, from the end of the nineteenth century, and practised today both inside and outside of Ireland; and the stylized, commoditized, theatrical practice of Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, established in North Kerry in the 1970s. The book provides a rich historical and ethnographic account of step dancing, step dancers, and cultural institutions in Ireland.