Arudpragasam captures the vernacular while sustaining a startling lyricism ... Even silence in the midst of war is rendered with bracing clarity. The reverence that is paid to the minutiae of refugee life, a brilliant choice, is sometimes undermined by too much fixation on detail ... This is a book that makes one kneel before the elegance of the human spirit and the yearning that is at the essence of every life.
...[an] exceptional debut novel ... With rapt precision, the novel details the first hours of this makeshift union ... Mr. Arudpragasam depicts [war] realistically, as a meaningless, machine-like force of destruction. And in examining the basic particulars of human interaction, his book displays the devotional intensity that Mr. Foer’s characters endlessly pontificate about but rarely find.
The novel is written with subtlety and delicacy: Each thought or action, each sight or sound is rendered with exquisite care and judgment. The prose is clear and calm, but there is a tense undercurrent, conveying that, as the shelling and killing go on and the mass displacement of people continues, Dinesh can take nothing for granted … Although it has the aura of a small, timeless masterpiece, and despite its lushness and its hypnotic textures, The Story of a Brief Marriage is not an apolitical book or a novel that sanitizes savagery. Arudpragasam shows us how, under the pressure of war, minute and ambiguous sensations within the mind rise and fall or merge with one another, making their way into more elaborate thoughts or more exquisite feeling, including love and longing, including desperation.
The novel both implicitly and explicitly raises crucial questions about the aesthetic and ethical stakes involved in regarding the suffering of others. Arudpragasam uses placid, even poetic prose, with results that range from brilliantly unsettling to questionably indulgent ... [an] often formidable novel.
Such precision and thoroughness make for slow, tedious reading, but that is deliberate. In fact, that is the point. Because he could die at any instant, Dinesh must draw as much juice as possible out of every microsecond that he is alive ... Anuk Arudpragasam has written a poignant novel that conveys the devastating psychological impact of war. Yet the book is not without flaws. The author’s constant repetition of phrases becomes tedious ... Still, The Story of a Brief Marriage is a worthwhile read.
It sets out to unsettle the reader with this purpose from the very first page. The effect is both awful and spectacular. Its achievement is all the greater as the author of this markedly mature debut is just 28 years old ... Like Ian McEwan in On Chesil Beach, Arudpragasam brings genuine pathos to the couple’s failure to connect, and he is just as good at writing about bad sex as McEwan ... a strange, profound, mini-masterpiece of a novel. Arudpragasam writes with control, clarity and a terrible beauty that acknowledges the world’s grandeur in the midst of darkness.
Arudpragasam writes with intimacy about the minutiae of this life...The prose, like poetry, is thick, concentrated. It takes two-and-a-half pages for Dinesh to clip his nails. Arudpragasam masterfully gives us the details of each experience ... dramatic and unpredictable changes, along with several 'ticking time bombs,' allow for the narrative to slow to a glacial pace without losing the attention of the reader ... It’s the kind of tale that, due to its apparent simplicity, might be called a fable. But it’s more textured than a fable. Small, simple events are freighted with detail and nuanced with meaning.