The suicide club

Saturday, 20 November 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Author Herman Gunaratne bares all in his book and evokes a bygone era with cadence

In his new book, The Suicide Club, Herman Gunaratne takes readers on a journey through the British plantation Raj during its heyday and what has become of it all in these post-colonial times.

The Suicide Club based on his grandfather’s crazy life motto you have to risk all, to gain anything, picks up at the point where all those years ago, Herman decided he wanted to work in the British run tea plantations. His life throughout those four decades was very similar to the gambling culture of the Suicide Club, of which his grandfather was President and probably is what has got him to where he is today. The Suicide Club in those days was where the richest people in the country came to gamble. Membership at the club was highly desirable at the time, and it was only the carefully selected elite who gained membership into this dangerously exciting club.

The stories told in the book are all true and give us a never before shown insiders into the lives of planters and their lifestyles. From starting as a ‘failure’ to working at the bottom of the workforce to now, owning his own tea plantation and buying back much of what his grandfather gambled away, Herman takes the readers through his journey of courage and relates how a man successfully brought up two children as an only parent, what he learnt from the Tamil people and in particular one woman, the great love of his life a beautiful French girl called Hugette. It’s a true riches to rags to riches story of a self made man who overcomes the circumstances of fate and triumphs in life.

Throughout the process of creating the book, from writing it, to shooting the pictures, Herman went back to every plantation he ever worked in before he began his own one, as specifically requested by Juliet Coombe, his publisher. It is only through this that he is able to see the colossal changes that have now taken place.

Apart from the workings of the plantation, Herman goes into a more popular Sri Lankan topic; politics. In the later chapters of   The Suicide Club, the focus shifts to post-colonial politics and the influence the plantations had over them. Most of these stories are thought provoking, always with a message or a romantic or special moment that will keep you intrigued from start to finish. The BBCs best selling writer Steve Davey says it’s a page turner and the Bureau chief of the UK Independent newspaper Andrew Buncombe says you can literally smell the tea it’s so vivid an account.

The book will show the reader a previously unseen side of some of today’s prominent political figures. Herman says, “The story has never been told before and as intended, and if it successfully transports the reader to the romance, the disappointments and the humiliations that we had to suffer in an era gone by, then I will be happy.”

The book is priced at Rs 750. For more details or to pre-order call on 0729166208 or email with a book order to [email protected] and for more information, see the website The book can be bought at ODEL, Barefoot, and all leading bookshops. Dress code for the launch is black and white, nothing else. And don’t forget to bring along the deeds to your house and be prepared to put it all on the line with the roll of the dice.

For any technical details or further detailed press requests contact Juliet Coombe on 0776838659 or email [email protected]