Published Works

1. The Devil Dancers

2. Barley Bread and Cheese

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1. The Devil Dancers

In 1950s Ceylon the past haunts the future

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An epic historical novel that follows the fortunes of various characters over a four year period.
Following Independence from the British, Ceylon’s future looks bright. A new prime minister is creating a modern nation. But his legacy is an unexpected one. The deals that brought him to power turn into a time-bomb and the country is contorted by bloody race riots.

A widening rift divides Tamils and Sinhalese destroying communities. Neighbour turns on neighbour. As the terror increases, many lives are transformed:

  • Brilliant but naïve, Arjun is banished to a backwater where he falls hopelessly in love with Neleni, a married woman. But her rival also plans to ensnare him;
  • Murder and a flight from deadly pursuers introduce Asoka, a former monk and revolutionary, to Sriya. She offers him redemption, but Asoka is haunted by the past;
  • Sergeant Gunasekera’s only diversion is crime thrillers – until he is forced to take responsibility for a group of refugees;
  • Ella, the maid, steals her ride to work on a commuter train. But she embarks on a different journey after her village is attacked by rioters;
  • Leela has all that money can buy until her husband is killed. Then, faced with bankruptcy, she strikes an unholy pact with her former lover;
  • Prime Minister Bandaranaike owes his election to a powerful Buddhist abbot. But there is a high price to pay.

In this atmosphere of violence and uncertainty, relationships fracture and families fragment reflecting the wider political turmoil. Yet, weaving its way through the mayhem is a single, twisted thread: the story of Neleni and Arjun.

2. Barley Bread and Cheese

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A selection of short stories inspired by England’s second oldest Cathedral – Rochester – and its unique set of treasures. Paintings, statues, carvings, an ancient book and Charles Dickens have all provided starting points for the stories in Barley Bread and Cheese. Encompassing both myth and historical fact, their settings range from medieval to modern times and from Kent to Ceylon.

In The Broken Wing an unusual meeting leads a grieving widower to the Angel of the North and a deserted beach. Jack offers a new spin on the ubiquitous Green Man. A painting of the Wheel of Fortune underlies a two-part story (Lady Luck and A turn around the Supermarket). The Baker’s Boy explores the medieval mystery behind Rochester’s patron saint. The riddle Homeward Bound keeps readers guessing as to this treasure’s identity. In the eponymous Barley Bread and Cheese, a historian tries to resolve the enigma of an ancient ordeal. The Cinnamon Peeler’s Daughter links Dickens’s Rochester to Ceylon and offers a solution to his unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Each short story is prefaced by a brief historical insight into the treasure that inspired it and is accompanied by one of seven black-and-white illustrations, most of which are based on original features from Rochester Cathedral.

The Appendix offers additional notes on the historical background to the stories and references to sources which will appeal to those keen to explore for themselves.

This is what Sarah Sturt, Editor, Kent Life says about the book:

“The stories in this wonderful collection are as intriguing as its title and range from historical fact to myth to the present day, but always with Rochester and the treasures within its great Cathedral at its heart. T. Thurai is a consummate storyteller and you will want to devour this literary feast in a sitting: Broken Wing conjured up my late father, a northern lad, and made me cry; I laughed out loud at the twist in Homeward Bound; chuckled wryly at the sheer brilliance of the eponymous Barley Bread and Cheese and marvelled at the writer’s ability to take a medieval mystery and turn it into the background to William of Perth’s unlikely sainthood (The Baker’s Boy).”

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