Be taken on a journey of the mind to mark the launch of Paul M.M. Cooper’s debut book River of Ink, involving a discussion between Cooper and Arifa Akbar, Literary Editor at the Independent.
Cooper, who grew up in Cardiff, worked as an English teacher in Sri Lanka after university. There he returned again and again to the ruins of Polonnaruwa, learnt to speak Sinhala and to read Tamil. River of Ink grew out of these trips, a beautiful debut from a very promising young writer.
At the book’s heart is the story of Asanka, a court poet in the great island kingdom of Lanka. In the midst of a war, Asanka is tasked with the translation of an epic Sanskrit poem, The Shishupala Vadha, a tale of gods and nobles, love and revenge, which the king believes will have a civilising effect on his subjects. The book’s outcome and its context will be explored in this discussion.
River of Ink, published by Bloomsbury, has already received advance praise from prominent names in the literary field, including Orange Prize winner Madeline Miller, who describes it as “potent, beautiful and wholly absorbing”.
Amit Chaudhuri, author of Odysseus Abroad, says: “It isn’t easy to write about the past with both a hesitant watchfulness and a calm assurance, to make it vivid and strange and yet also, in a fundamental way, ours, but that’s exactly what Paul Cooper has achieved – with considerable aplomb – in River of Ink.”
Cooper, who did the Prose Fiction MA at the University of East Anglia (UEA), will discuss the journey that led him to write the book, exploring different aspects of Sri Lanka yesterday and today, alongside talking about the book itself.
The event will be followed by a drinks reception and book signing.