Reef is a novel written by Romesh Gunesekera that was published in 1994. Romesh Gunesekera is a British author who was born in Sri Lanka. With this book, he became a finalist in the 1994 Man Booker Prize. In addition, Gunesekera has written many short stories, most of which deal with political and social tensions and issues. These works are sensitive yet heavy, and they have been nominated for and have won many prizes. Reef almost won the Man Booker Prize in 1994 and also was a finalist for the Guardian Fiction Prize that year as well.
The narrator and protagonist of Reef is named Triton, who was an emigrant from Sri Lanka and now lives in England. He is a restaurant owner. The novel begins with Triton filling up his car gas tank at a station in England, and when he is paying, the cashier looks like he is from Sri Lanka, and when they start talking about their old country, Triton begins to think about his life in Sri Lanka and the war and all the events that made him escape from his home country to England as a refugee.
Triton flashes back to his childhood days, when he had to work as a housekeeper for Mister Salgado, a marine biologist. He was a good worker, and when Joseph, Salgado’s servant and Triton’s boss, was fired, Triton took over all the housekeeping duties. He also learned by himself using secondhand school books, and he also became the cook of the house. However, even in the idyllic nature of Sri Lanka, the island’s disappearing reef is a foreshadowing of the political unrest that will devastate Sri Lanka.