Anuk Arudpragasam's masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of the devastation of Sri Lanka's 30-year civil war.
As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province to attend a family funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, and an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, this procession to a pyre ‘at the end of the earth’ lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.
About the AuthorAnuk Arudpragasam is an award-winning Sri Lankan Tamil novelist, who is shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize for his second novel, A Passage North.
I didn’t set out to write about war when I began writing fiction
Audie nominated and multi-AudioFile Earphones Award winning narrator Neil Shah brings A Passage North to life in the audiobook.
In this conversation with author Megha Majumdar, Anuk Arudpragasam reveals that he thought he ‘had had enough of writing about’ the Sri Lankan civil war after his first novel A Brief Marriage. He intended to write something very different, a book about the relationship between a young man and his grandmother, but ‘the war kind of seeped in in various ways.. that after a while of writing I realised I couldn’t ignore’.
Describing A Passage North, Arudpragasam says: ‘It discusses, in various ways, various kinds of ramifications of the war, like psychic, psychological ramifications, especially of the last two yeas which were very violent, a violent time in the war. A lot of people died, thousands of civilians were killed… A lot of my work has been a kind of response to the events of the end of the war, to the events of my community.’
Watch Arudpragasam and Majumdar in conversation for Bookforum magazine below.
What might feel affected or even tedious in the hands of a lesser writer becomes atmospheric in Arudpragasam’s extraordinary prose