Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

The Banality Of Evil

by Karthick Ram Manoharan, ‘Outlook India,’ February 5, 2018 The torture of incarcerated Tamils was not a betrayal of the Sri Lankan state’s Sinhala-Buddhist ideal, but that ideal being taken to its logical conclusion, writes Karthick Ram Manoharan. Excerpts from his afterword to Sri Lankan Tamil novelist Kuna Kaviyalahan’s ‘The Poisoned Dream’. Kuna Kaviyalahan’s The Poisoned… Read more »

Tales Of Lankan Tamil Diaspora

Narrated With Poignancy And Hilarity by Sreevalsan Thiyyadi, ‘Outlook India,’ January 28, 2018 It was on this date nine years ago that immigrant Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada intensified protest against a “genocide” of their community in the Northern Province of the island-nation. Appadurai Muttulingam’s stories take a kaleidoscopic view on their everyday lives—and beyond… Read more »

War, Denial and Nation-Building in Sri Lanka

After the End by Rachel Seoighe, Palgrave Studies in Compromise After Conflict, Palgrave MacMillan, Dec. 5, 2017 Abstract This book begins from a critical account of the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war, tracing themes of nationalism, discourse and conflict memory through this period of immense violence and into its aftermath. Using these… Read more »

Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War

by Abbey Steele, Cornell University Press, December 2017 ISBN-101501713736 ISBN-139781501713736 Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War is one of few books available in English to provide an overview of the Colombian civil war and drug war. Abbey Steele draws on her own original field research as well as on Colombian scholars’ work in Spanish to… Read more »

Tamil Refugee Still Says Nandri

Tortured by police, separated from his family for years, but Tamil refugee still says nandri – thank you Rescued after 22 hours in freezing water, Para Paheer applied for asylum in Australia. An extraordinary friendship with a Victorian woman helped ease the pain of waiting eight years to see his wife and son by Ben… Read more »

Making and Unmaking Nations

War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa by Scott Straus, Cornell University Press, 2015 “In the end, he concludes, whether interethnic strife results in genocide depends almost entirely on national leadership.” “…Strauss views threat by itself as an insufficient explanation, as elites have multiple options for responding to grave and immediate threats and because these… Read more »

Myanmar’s Enemy Within: The Illusion of Diversity and the Spread of Fear

by Francis Wade, August, 2017 Publisher: Zed Books Ltd ISBN: 9781783605279 Number of pages: 304 [Manufacturing the ‘other’ sound like Sri Lanka, anyone? Ed/] Book review from South China Morning Post here. From the Prologue: …These communal fissures weren’t entirely new, but to man outside observers, they were unknowns.  And before a deeper analysis of their causes began… Read more »

‘The Barrier’

by Shankari Chandran Also author of ‘Song of the Sun God’ From the author’s website: The Barrier is a fast-paced literary thriller, set in a world destroyed by a virulent strain of Ebola and religious wars. It is 2040 and the surviving nations have been reorganized into the Western and Eastern Alliance. One side subjugates… Read more »

‘Tamils & the Nation:’ India & Sri Lanka Compared

by Madurika Rasaratnam, Oxford University Press, 352 pages, published August 15, 2016 ISBN 9780190498320 ABSTRACT Why are relations between politically mobilized ethnic identities and the nation-state sometimes peaceful and at other times fraught and violent? This book sets out a novel answer to this key puzzle in world politics through a detailed comparative study of… Read more »

Gunaratne’s Road To Nandikadal

by Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan, ‘Colombo Telegraph,’ January 17, 2017 Book Review – Major General Kamal Gunaratne, Road to Nandikadal: True story of defeating Tamil Tigers, Colombo, 2016. Epigraph: Those who have power in the present, control the story of the past; and those who control the past, shape the future. ~ (Adapted from Orwell’s dystopian novel,… Read more »

Mangala Says Major General’s Book is the Biggest Betrayal to ‘War Heroes’

Mangala Says Major General Kamal Gunaratne’s ‘Road To Nandikadal’ Is The Biggest Betrayal To ‘War Heroes’ by ‘Colombo Telegraph,’ March 18, 2017 Serious misconduct including incidents of violence carried out by the army has been highlighted in Major General Kamal Gunaratne’s ‘Road to Nandikadal’ book, said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera recently. Mangala Samaraweera “This book basically… Read more »

Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law

The Pyrrhic Constitutionalism of Sri Lanka AUTHOR: Benjamin Schonthal, University of Otago, New Zealand DATE PUBLISHED: November 2016 ISBN: 9781107152236 LENGTH: 320 pages Read the introduction at It is widely assumed that a well-designed and well-implemented constitution can help ensure religious harmony in modern states. Yet how correct is this assumption? Drawing on groundbreaking research from… Read more »

Theravada Traditions

Buddhist Ritual Cultures in Contemporary Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka by John Clifford Holt, University of Hawai’i Press 408pp. March 2017 Cloth – Price: $68.00 ISBN: 978-0-8248-6780-5 Theravada Traditions offers a unique comparative approach to understanding Buddhism: it examines popular rituals of central importance in the predominantly Theravada Buddhist cultures of Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia…. Read more »

Tamil: A Biography

HARDCOVER $35.00 • £25.00 • €31.50 ISBN 9780674059924 Publication: September 2016 The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press Spoken by eighty million people in South Asia and a diaspora that stretches across the globe, Tamil is one of the great world languages, and one of the few ancient languages that survives as a mother… Read more »

Former Diplomat Admits India’s Role in Sri Lankan Communal War

by Vijith Samarasinghe, World Socialist Website, February 10, 2017 A recent book by retired Indian diplomat Shivashankar Menon reveals New Delhi’s backing for the Colombo government during the final stage of the war against separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Menon, a former foreign secretary and national security advisor to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,… Read more »

How the US Helped Destroy LTTE Floating Armories

by P.K. Balachandran, ‘The Indian Express,’ February 10, 2017 Ex-Sri Lankan navy chief Colombage narrates how the US helped destroy LTTE floating armories COLOMBO: Former Sri Lankan navy chief Adm. Jayanath Colombage has, in his recently published book Asymmetric Warfare At Sea: The Case of Sri Lanka, described how the United States helped the Sri Lankan navy destroy the LTTE’s… Read more »

Review of ‘Nothing Ever Dies’

“All wars are fought twice,” he writes, “the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” —————– Nothing Ever Dies Read an excerpt from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s new book about Vietnam and the memory of war  By Stephanie Bastek, ‘American Scholar,’ April 12, 2016 The Vietnam War—or, as those on the other side… Read more »

The Enlightened Theology of a Tamil Saivite

by Karthick Ram Manoharan, ‘The Wire,’ India, December 22, 2016 In Religion, Caste and Nation in South India, V. Ravi Vaithees focuses on the works of the Tamil Saivite saint Maraimalai Adigal and explores the religious roots of the Dravidian movement and its impact on the political discourse. This year has been a calamitous one… Read more »

An English Biography on Jayalalitha by Vaasanthi

by Sachi Sri Kantha Book Review: Amma – Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, by Vaasanthi, Juggernaut Books, New Delhi, 2016, 175 pages. At last, a short English biography on actress-politician Jayalalitha, the current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, India, had appeared. The author Vaasanthi, is a noted Tamil woman novelist. Despite the… Read more »