About the book (from jacket flap):
A clever picture of life in a primitive Ceylon village, the village in which the author was born and brought up. He describes the day-to-day life of a community hardly touched by European influences, its leading characters, its occasional visits from travelling priests and traders, its occasional excitements and tragedies, in a series of sketches which exactly catch the atmosphere of its unsophisticated simplicity.
About the author (from the Open University):
Author, teacher and journalist Jinadasa Vijayatunga grew up in the village of Urala before attending a boarding school in Galle in Southern Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). His Sinhalese-speaking parents employed a tutor to teach him English. He began his career as a teacher and journalist in Sri Lanka. He then taught in Tagore’s school in Bengal, and then as an examiner in Sinhalese for Calcutta University, 1927-8. He taught in New York from 1928 to 1931 before he went to London as a journalist. He lived most of his adult life abroad in America, England and India, before returning to Sri Lanka towards the end of his life.
Vijayatunga’s fiction published in London focuses on Sri Lanka. Grass for My Feet (1935) provides a series of vignettes of village life in Sri Lanka. It is based on Vijayatunga’s childhood memories growing up in a small remote village in Sri Lanka at the turn of the century. His book Island Story (1949) is a more factual account. It purports to convey an intimate knowledge of the island in terms of its people, history, culture and geographical layout. His choice of topics – Green Field and Valleys, The Gift of Water, Tea Gardens, Island Neighbours, Kings and Heroes of Old, Kandy the Lake City – suggests a desire to represent both Ceylon’s ancient traditions and present-day life. Published in the year after Ceylon gained independence, the book illuminates the newly independent country to the rest of the world. Both books were well-received in both Britain and Sri Lanka. They were hailed as great literary achievements and unique introductions of the island. Sri Lankan and Indian publishers have recently re-published these two works.