Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Crocodile Chamber by Gayendra Abeywardane is a short, but most intense and unusual read, and is definitely not for everyone. Readers who will be drawn to Crocodile Chamber aren’t afraid of dark stories. They are readers who enjoy reflection that intellectualizes and explores…even if it involves stirring up painful memories in the writer, and possibly the reader. The readers who will most understand where Gayendra Abeywardane is coming from, and what he is getting at, are those who have experienced mind-shattering trauma, and know how hard it is to rise above anger and pain without killing those who have inflicted it.
Abeywardane’s protagonist is one of those people. As a child, Amila witnessed the murder of his mother by a frightening man of great power, whom young Amila trusted in Sri Lanka. Now grown, but with the painful knowledge of who murdered his mother locked inside him…telling authorities wasn’t an option…he struggles daily against the hatred and anger consuming him. He fights the anger by fighting others, not to win but to simultaneously punish and strengthen himself. And when finally he does come face to face again with Desarath, readers turn pages wondering what Desarath will do to him or he will do to Desarath.
Crocodile Chamber is classified as a fiction novella. But given how closely Amila’s background and current location mirror that of the author - Amila hails from Colombo, Sri Lanka and now lives in Australia - as does Gayendra Abeywardane, one cannot help but think Crocodile Chamber is based on true events in the author’s past. According to the author’s website, writers such as Chuck Palahniuk and Neil Gaiman have been an immense inspiration in his creative journey into finding his own author’s voice. He certainly has done that with Crocodile Chamber. Read it if you dare.