Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew
Submitted by Raymond on 31 December 2012 - 11:08am
W. G. Karunasena is a drunken old sports journalist who has been informed by his doctor that, if he doesn’t change his drinking habits, he won’t have much time left on the planet. Mindful of this deadline, he has an idea for a documentary and a book that will tell the story of the man he considers to have been the greatest-ever Sri Lankan cricketer: the brilliantly wayward (but now largely forgotten) left-arm spinner Pradeep Mathew. As he carries out his research, W.G. starts to unravel an unlikely tale of sporting genius, political corruption, match-fixing and organised crime. The book features actual characters from Sri Lankan cricket and politics, along with composite characters like ‘Graham Snow’, the straight-talking English ex-professional, now working as a media pundit. Most of the cricket matches mentioned in the book are real, as are their protagonists, but the lines are skilfully blurred between fact, fiction and something that lurks somewhere between the two.
Length of read:
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
This book will appeal to anyone who loves cricket, but will connect with anyone who reads newspapers from the back page to the front. W.G. believes that most of our lives won’t amount to a hill of beans, but, as he puts it: "In a hundred years, Bulgarians will still talk of Letchkov and how he expelled the mighty Germans from the 1994 World Cup with a simple header. Sport can unite worlds, tear down walls and transcend race, the past, and all probability. Unlike life, sport matters.”
One thing you've learned:
The ramblings of some drunk old men provide a commentary on the four C’s at the heart of this book: cricket, corruption, conflict and colonialism. I've learned stuff about Sri Lanka's troubled history and I've got a greater understanding of how match-fixing, crime and politics may be inextricably linked. I've also learned, by googling 'Pradeep Mathew', that Shehan Karunatilaka has cleverly created an online presence for the character, including a ‘cricinfo’ profile and ‘crikipedia’ entry.