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  • Published: 15 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446475911
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416


From author of Booker Prize 2022 winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

From the Booker prize-winning author of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida - a rumbustuous, brilliant novel about Sri Lanka, cricket and the search for a legendary sportsman

'A crazy ambidextrous delight' Michael Ondaatje
'Bristling with energy and confidence' Sunday Times
'Spellbinding' Mohammed Hanif

The blazing debut novel by the Booker prize-winning author of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

Where is Pradeep S. Mathew - spin bowler extraordinaire and 'the greatest cricketer to walk the earth'?

Retired sportswriter W. G. Karunasena is dying, and he wants to know.

W.G. will spend his final months drinking arrack, making his wife unhappy, ignoring his son and tracking down the mysterious Pradeep. On his quest he will also uncover a coach with six fingers, a secret bunker below a famous stadium, a Tamil Tiger warlord, and startling truths about Sri Lanka, cricket and himself.

Winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

  • Published: 15 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446475911
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

About the author

Shehan Karunatilaka

Shehan Karunatilaka has written advertisements, rock songs, travel stories and basslines. Chinaman is his first novel.

Praise for Chinaman

Carries real weight...a mixture of, say, CLR James, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fernando Pessoa and Sri Lankan arrack...essential to anyone with a taste for maverick genius

The Times

The strength of the book lies in its energy, its mixture of humour and heartwrenching emotion, its twisting narrative, its playful use of cricketing facts and characters, and its occasional blazing anger about what Sri Lanka has done to itself...

Kamila Shamsie, Guardian

Karunatilaka has a real lightness of touch. He mixes humour and violence with the same deftness with which his protagonist mixes drinks


A Great Cricket Novel. For a game without much great fiction, that's a reason to applaud with drums - and forget the rules the marshals impose at Lord's

Salil Tripathi, Independent

It's funny and original, extremely revealing about Sri Lanka, and as for the cricket, in the author's own words: "If you can't understand why anyone would watch, let alone obsess over this dull game, then this is the book for you." Brilliant

Kate Saunders, The Times

At an early stage, I will confess that I was very close to typing 'Pradeep Mathew Cricinfo' into Google just to check whether there was indeed a Sri Lankan cricketer of that name ... that may be a recommendation of the book; it may be a condemnation. But I have always had a soft spot for Sri Lankan cricket

Steve James, Daily Telegraph

Chinaman's free-wheeling, zany tempo is part of its charm too. Its picaresque action, mainly based in Colombo and narrated in short bite-sized chunks, gives a vibrant comic pulse to Sri Lankan life, even though Karunatilaka's portrait of the country is scathing...it confirms that cricket, a game that is largely played in the head and inhabits a bizarrely detailed parallel world to our own, is ideally suited to the purposes of fiction

Financial Times

Chinaman is a debut bristling with energy and confidence, a quixotic novel that is both an elegy to lost ambitions and a paean to madcap dreams

Sunday Times

Confident and poignant debut

Sunday Times

A devastatingly limber, comic, cricket-themed piece of social satire. It is simply a great novel. It is also a deliciously moreish treat, a flushing out of all those furtively tended obsessions with the game's history, culture, statistics and privately cherished player-crushes

Barney Ronay, Wisden Cricketer

A hugely entertaining read

South Wales Echo

As far as literary fiction goes, this is both incredibly literary and amazingly enjoyable… Lyrical, poetic, and always written with the same bittersweet quality which captured my attention right at the start, this is an absolute gem of a book… Clearly, this is about the highest possible recommendation, whether or not you like cricket… When I got to the end, the only issue I had with the book was that I wished it hadn’t finished

Robert James, TheBookbag.co.uk

There is much to enjoy in Sri Lankan Karunatilaka’s energetic debut novel… The book bristles with grouchy humour, laconic observations on Sri Lanka’s political troubles and the pathos of coming to the end of life. Steering just the right side of sentiment, it is both an elegy to lost ambitions and a paean to madcap dreams

Adam Lively, Sunday Times

Pradeep is a character who really should have been real, his tale capturing the chaotic essence of Sri Lankan cricket brilliantly - the good, the bad and the ugly

All About Cricket

This is a resonant story, in which you suddenly find that you have absorbed on the nod more about the Sri Lankan character than you might have thought possible or likely... I can hardly believe this is a first novel... He has with no apparent effort got into the mind of an articulate, wise but despairing and cynical drunken old hack, and this long, languorous and winding novel has registers of tragedy, farce, lauhg-out-loud humour and great grace. Karunatilaka is, I gather, writing another novel, but how it can be as good as this I can hardly imagine

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

In this idiosyncratic, often hilarious debut novel, a dying Sri Lankan sportswriter decides to pursue his quixotic dream of making a documentary about a long-forgotten cricketing genius

Benjamin Evans, Telegraph

A rollercoaster of a novel

Times Higher Education

Chinaman – to resort to the most groan inducing of cricketing clichés – bowled me over. Like all the best sporting novels, it places its subject in a wider context. All in all, Karunatilaka’s big, bold debut is a more or less unmitigated triumph. It made me laugh; it made me cry; it even made me reconsider my long-held antipathy towards the game of crickets. And I can think of no higher recommendation than that

David Evans, Independent

A deliberately rambling account of a dying sportswriter’s attempts to get to the truth of the disappearance of a Sri Lankan bowler... It’s brilliant

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian