Rohan De Soysa’s Slow-Cooked Thoughts is a miscellany of photography, essays, printed talks, a travelogue, a Buddhist poem and two tales.
Initially, De Soysa states, he had only planned to make copies of this collection for his children and grandchildren, but then he “thought of having it published in case it interested others, too.” The collection reflects a distillation of who De Soysa is, what he has done and learned, and what he wants to pass down to his progeny.
His love of art is reflected in his photography and the reprinted talks he gave about the ‘43 Group—the “first modern art movement in Sri Lanka” —and the Sapumal Foundation whose gallery houses much of their work. De Soysa, chairman of the Sapumal Foundation since 2011, tells of how the ‘43 Group was formed and discusses the roles of participants such as Lionel Wendt, Harry Pieris and George Keyt. De Soysa provides photographs of the gallery, which give a sense of place and ambience.
The need to respect “all living things” is a recurrent thread throughout the book, and whether De Soysa is advocating reforestation or the necessity of teaching children about conservation, his stance in favor of wise planet stewardship is consistently apparent. The two tales at book’s end include a fable-like approach to the evils of over-consumption.
The problem with this volume, initially meant for relatives, is that it combines incongruent parts that would be more likely to find their own, disparate, audiences if expanded and published as separate editions. De Soysa also includes pieces of minimal interest to general readers. For example, his account of a road trip from England to Sri Lanka is too sketchy to make for good travel reading, and his essay about his father’s role in Sri Lanka’s rubber exportation is likely to interest only family.
Nevertheless, because of its detailed exploration of the ’43 Group, the book may find an audience with art lovers and historians.
Also available as an ebook.