Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

‘Madras Then, Chennai Now’

A journey through the city’s changing fortunes. Review by Timeri N Murari, India Today, April 9, 2014 Madras/Chennai sneaks up on you when least expected. A city long ignored on the tourist routes suddenly materialises in The New York Times’ top destinations at number 26. Who would have imagined that? Two citizens, Nanditha Krishna… Read more »

Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes

Book Review by Joe Glenton,, January 29, 2020 That Britain outsources aspects of her habitually violent foreign policy is no revelation. The wars in Afghanistan and Libya, but perhaps most especially Iraq, saw a veritable mercenary gold rush as the unregulated hard men of disaster capitalism, mostly ex-soldiers, flooded into the lawless zones created… Read more »

From SAS to Merciless Mercenaries

A new book tells the story of an elite band of ex-special forces who wreaked havoc around the world. Their calling card? A live grenade in a wine glass by Neil Tweedie, Daily Mail, UK, February 1, 2020 Private military company KMS operated behind the scenes in the 1970s and 80s  It did jobs that would… Read more »

‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’

Book review by Thomas Gidney, London School of Economics Review of Books, January 16, 2020 In The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, William Dalrymple gives a new character-driven account of the ascent to power of the East India Company following the collapse of the Mughal Empire and the resulting ‘anarchy’ that followed. Tracking the… Read more »

‘The Struggle for a Multilingual Future’

Youth and Education in Sri Lanka by Christina P. Davis, 21 January 2020, Oxford University Press 212 Pages | 10 illus ISBN: 9780190947484 Oxford Studies in the Anthropology of Language Demonstrates the challenges of promoting peace and interethnic tolerance through multilingual language policies in post-civil war Sri Lanka Explores how power inequalities and ethnic conflict… Read more »

Review of ‘Sri Lanka: A Victor’s Peace: 2009 to 2019’

by Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan, Berlin, January 13, 2020 Ana Pararajasingham, Sri Lanka: A Victor’s Peace: 2009 to 2019, Sydney, 2019. Read online at What follows is not a review of this collection of thirty-two, very perceptive, essays but a sharing of a few thoughts arising from the book, particularly from its title. The phrase… Read more »

How Perumal Murugan Was Resurrected Through Writing

by Amitava Kumar, The New Yorker, December 12, 2019 Earlier this year, at a literary festival in Jaipur, I met the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. I had just finished reading his book “Poonachi,” which will be published in the U.S. this month as “The Story of a Goat.” (The translation is by N. Kalyan Raman.)… Read more »

A Graphic Novel that Documents the Horrors of Vanni in Sri Lanka

A decade after the Sri Lankan civil war, a former UN worker revisits the lives of those he left behind on the island through a graphic novel by Amrita Dutta, The Indian Express, November 17, 2019 Drawn on Horror: The spirit of straight-up reportage animates Vanni, rather than complex storytelling. Right top: Benjamin Dix; below:… Read more »

Don’t Forget the Tamil Genocide

Victims of decades of racist pogroms, state violence, and military occupation, the Tamil minority has long fought for liberation in Sri Lanka. We should not ignore their struggle. Book review by Lee Rhiannon, Jacobin Magazine, October 20, 2019 Review of Losing Santhia: Life and Loss in the Struggle for Tamil Eelam, by Ben Hillier (Interventions, 2019)…. Read more »

Review: ‘The Vanni’

by Tamil Guardian, London, October 13, 2019 Former UN staffer Benjamin Dix released his first graphic novel this month, exploring the story of Tamil families trapped in the Vanni in 2009, as the Sri Lankan military launches an ominous offensive that kills tens of thousands civilians. The Vanni, based on interviews that Dix carried out… Read more »

“Death, Beauty, Struggle’

Untouchable Women Create the World by Margaret Trawick, University of Press, 2017 304 pages | 6 x 9 Cloth 2017 | ISBN 9780812249057 | $75.00s | Outside the Americas £62.00 Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors “This is the work of the most important anthropologist working in South India and Tamil-speaking Sri Lanka in the past fifty… Read more »

Listening to the Song of Singamma

by Shefali Jha, The Book Review Literary Trust, New Delhi, 2018? Enclosures and boundaries have a conflicted meaning for women. Enclosures are often not safe spaces for them and women have to constantly resist boundaries in order to live their lives. The book under review looks at how ‘conventional Tamil symbols—unbroken enclosures like bangles, pots,… Read more »

A Sin-eater’s (Lakshman Kadirgamar) Story

by Sachi Sri Kantha, August 10, 2019 Book Review: ‘The Cake that was Baked at Home – Lakshman Kadirgamar, Snapshotsof the Man’s Life and Times by his Daughter’, by Ajita Kadirgamar, Vijitha Yapa Publications, Colombo, 2nd ed., 2016, 522 pages. Fourteen years had passed since Lakshman Kadirgamar (1932-2005) was assassinated on August 12th. Though the… Read more »

‘Losing Santhia’

by Chris Slee, ‘Green Left Weekly,’ Melbourne, Australia, August 1, 2019 Serialization of story Ben Hillier’s presentation at book launch Eighty people attended the launch of Ben Hillier’s new book Losing Santhia, which was organised by the Tamil Refugee Council on July 27. Santhia was a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka who had been a member… Read more »

Tamil Female Civil Space

Its Evolution and Decline in Tamil Eelam by N. Malathy, Aakar Books, Delhi, July 2019 Region : World | Language : English | Product Binding : Paper Back | Page No. : 141 | Year : 2019 ISBN : 9789350026229 INR : 395 Overview Modern Feminist ideologies serve only middle class women in the developing world…. Read more »

‘One Part Woman’

by Perumal Murugan review – a skilful Tamil tale by Meena Kandasamy, ‘The Guardian,’ UK, July 25, 2019 This sensuous novel about an infertile couple in 1940s Tamil Nadu was met with a furore on its publication in India With the backdrop of Hindu nationalist fervour gripping India, One Part Woman finds a historical parallel in Rushdie’s Satanic… Read more »

The Best Books to Understand Modern Terrorism

After Sri Lanka by Iain Overton, The Guardian, UK, April 25, 2019 Though the first suicide bombing was in 1881, 40% of those killed by them have died in the last five years. Iain Overton picks the best books that explain why Terror is not a new phenomenon. The 19th-century invention of dynamite by a… Read more »

Government and Politics in Sri Lanka

Biopolitics and security by A. R. Sriskanda Rajah, Routledge Studies in South Asian Politics, 2017 167 pages TCIN: 53075469 UPC: 9781138290976 Item Number (DPCI): 248-54-2218 The island of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was one of the few Asian colonies in which the British Empire experimented liberal state-building in the nineteenth century, and where many British colonial officials predicted that… Read more »