Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Book Review by Premasara Epasinghe – Dr. Sanjiva Wijesinha’s Strangers on the Camino

premasara epasingheHaving read Dr. Sanjiva Wijesinha’s last book `Not Our War, a collection of short stories based on his personal experiences as a doctor in the army, I have now been enthralled by his latest book entitled Strangers on the Camino a Father, a Son and a Holy Trail’.

This book belongs to a completely different genre in which he writes of his eight hundred kilometer walk with his son Shivantha along an ancient Catholic pilgrim trail in northern Spain called the Camino de Santiago.

It is based on the travel diary he maintained during the six weeks they took to walk from their starting point, a small town on the French-Spanish border called St. Jean Pied de Port to the cathedral city of Santiago near Spain’s western coast – but it is not just a travelogue. His writing encompasses the history and myths of the Camino and Spain itself, the lessons that he and his son learned as they journeyed as humble pilgrims, and the enchanting tale of the father and son walking the trail together and becoming closer as a result.

Although Dr. Wijesinha is not himself a Catholic, he has shown a keen interest in Catholic traditions. His descriptions about the saintly figures, churches and other holy places in Spain are highly educative to the reader. He provides at the end of their journey a vivid description of the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where the relics of St. James, one of Christ’s 12 apostles whom the Spanish call Santiago, are buried.

Reading Strangers on the Camino is a wonderful experience. The book consists of 150 pages and contains 32 colour photographs. There are some enchanting scenes of Rabenal, Acebo, and Galicia, beautiful pictures of paintings and statues from Spanish churches as well as the castle of Ponferrada, the church at Eunate and the old stone bridge at Puenta La Reina.

In Chapter 7 (The Kindness of Strangers) Dr. Wijesinha talks about the simple Spanish folk who helped them, while Chapter 9 (The Train in Spain) gives an account of Spain’s great warrior kings. Many details about the history and traditions of Spain are explained to the reader in an interesting and entertaining style.

The kingdom of Spain occupies 80% of the Iberian Peninsula, comprising of an area of 504,780 square km. Its population is made up of several different ethnic groups – Castilian Spanish dominating with 74% of the population, the rest being Catalan (17%), Galician (6%) and Basque (2%). Castilian Spanish is the official language; Roman Catholics make up about 97% of the population.

Dr. Wijesinha provides an overview, a glimpse if you like, of Spanish history, art, architecture, environment, social life and religious traditions, giving the reader enough attractively presented Information so as to whet his appetite to find out more.

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I congratulate Dr. Wijesinha on compiling this fine book. It is a highly readable book full of useful material for all age groups and will make a valuable addition to your library.

 

Strangers on the Camino is available as a paperback from Vijitha Yapa Bookshops and other booksellers in Sri Lnaka, and internationally from amazon.com and . It is also available as an eBook from amazon.com

 

Book Review by Premasara Epasinghe

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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