Review by Maxine Topley

Islands Unto Ourselves is an adeptly written novel which speaks to the quiet, unassuming heroism of all immigrants who come to Canada.


Gomathy Puri breathes life into her characters and expertly illuminates the process of acculturation.  We are immediately drawn into the world of the newly arrived Kamala at the airport in Winnipeg as she copes with the sights and sounds of a new life with entirely different sets of mores, social cues and customs.  Juxtaposition is Kamala a few years later who has become a confident, well-adjusted woman.

Through Kamala’s brooding and introspective nature we journey through the process of adapting to her life in Canada, coming to terms with the fact that she belongs to neither her land of birth nor her adopted country. Poignant childhood memories are skillfully woven throughout the novel highlighting the vast diversity of Indian and Canadian culture.

Kamala’s stoicism and strength help her navigate through the gender and racial issues facing immigrants in their career.  Through her tenacity she forges a strong career only to pay dearly for it with the quiet disintegration of her marriage.

Every aspect of the book is a testament to the human condition, the mastery of our fears and the depth of strength that lies within all of us.  It is simultaneously sad and hopeful, threatening and courageous, depressing and joyful.  Herein lays the complexity of living captured so beautifully in Islands Unto Ourselves.

Maxine Topley,

Vancouver, B.C.