Book Review: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
by Shehan Karunatilaka
Review by Doyel

Reading this Booker Prize winning novel was an incredibly moving and transformative experience. The blend of mystery, humour and profound reflections on life and death grabbed me from the first page. Karunatilaka’s storytelling transported me to the tumultuous, dark era of 1980s Sri Lanka, a setting I found both fascinating and haunting. Maali Almeida, the protagonist, is a war photographer who wakes up in a bureaucratic, purgatory-like afterlife with no recollection of how he died. This setup hooked me immediately. Maali’s urgency to uncover the truth about his death and make sense of his unfinished business within seven moons added a gripping tension to the narrative. His journey is marked by a whirlwind of emotions, and I found myself deeply invested in his quest.

What struck me most about the book was how it tackled the heavy themes of war, violence, and corruption with such a deft touch. Karunatilaka’s prose is lyrical yet precise, filled with moments of dark humour (my favourite kind) that provided much-needed relief amidst the gravity of the subject matter. The characters, especially Maali, felt incredibly real to me. Maali was flawed, complex, and profoundly human, something we can all relate to. This is not just a story about solving a mystery: it’s a deeply personal exploration of life’s biggest questions. The book truly made me reflect on my own life, the choices I make, and the legacy I want to leave behind in this world. Shehan Karunatilaka has created a masterpiece that resonates on so many levels, blending the fantastical with the real in a way that feels both magical and true. The book is a journey that I’ll carry with me for a long time, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a novel that challenges, entertains and touches the soul.