Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Why International Law Still Matters

Sands allows his extraordinary book to revolve around a simple question: Do we need the crime of genocide? Does the category add anything to the power and effectiveness of crimes against humanity? “The term ‘genocide,’ with its focus on the group,” Sands writes, “tends to heighten a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us,’ burnishes feelings of… Read more »

Making and Unmaking Nations

by Scott Straus, Cornell University Press, 2016 In Making and Unmaking Nations, Scott Straus seeks to explain why and how genocide takes place—and, perhaps more important, how it has been avoided in places where it may have seemed likely or even inevitable. To solve that puzzle, he examines postcolonial Africa, analyzing countries in which genocide… Read more »

Bishop Rayappu Joseph: ‘A Living Hero’

Biography describes the bishop’s efforts to stand up for the rights of the Tamil people by UCA News, Bangkok, September 5, 2016  A biography about the challenges faced by a Catholic bishop who played a major role in assisting Tamil people during Sri Lanka’s civil war was launched Sept. 1. Written by Oblate Father David… Read more »

Road to Nandikadal

by Shanika Sriyananda, ‘Daily FT,’ Colombo, September 6, 2016 Battle-hardened soldier Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, who has shed his Army uniform which he wore for 35 years, yesterday urged political leaders of the country to maintain the hard-earned peace. Maj. Gen. Gunaratne, who is credited for commanding his troops of the 53 Division to fight the… Read more »

The Story of a Brief Marriage

by Anuk Arudpragasam, to be published September 6, 2016 from ‘The Wall Street Journal,’ 10 Books to Read This Fall, September 1, 2016 This debut novel begins with a gut-wrenching scene, in which a 6-year-old child has his arm amputated. Other striking moments, all calmly told in meticulous detail, follow: a woman compulsively eating sand,… Read more »

Lost Evenings, Lost Lives

by Charles Sarvan, ‘Colombo Telegraph,’ August 25, 2016 This bilingual anthology of fifty poems is by the very nature of its subject (ethnic conflict) political, and yet it would be inaccurate and unfortunate to describe the volume as a political work. It is about the experience of politics: politics as experienced not by the makers… Read more »

Being a Christian in Sri Lanka

Historical, Political, Social, and Religious Considerations – Book by Leonard Pinto Reviewed by Basil Fernando, ‘diasporaasianvoices,’ July 29, 2016 Being a Christian in Sri Lanka is a book with a striking cover, showing the view from theSigiriya Rock Fortress (built 477 – 495 AD, a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Leonard Pinto, an ecologist and an… Read more »

The Other Tamils of Sri Lanka

by V. Suryanarayan, ‘The Book Review India,’ March 2016 CLASS, PATRIARCHY AND ETHNICITY ON SRI LANKAN PLANTATIONS: TWO CENTURIES OF POWER AND PROTEST By Kumari Jayawardena  and Rachel Kurian Orient BlackSwan, Hyderabad, 2015, pp. 364, Rs. 825.00 VOLUME XL NUMBER 3 March 2016 The book traces two centuries old history of plantations in Sri Lanka… Read more »

Stop Mutual Recrimination, Address Root Causes of the Ethnic Conflict

By PK Balachandran, ‘The Indian Express,’ August 13, 2016 COLOMBO: Rathika Pathmanathan, a former combatant of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), urges fellow Sri Lankans divided by a 30 year ethnic conflict, to stop “accusing and punishing each other, and begin addressing the root causes of the conflict” so that Sinhalese and Tamils… Read more »

Book Review: ‘Ruins’

by Jane Sullivan, ‘Sydney Morning Herald, July 9, 2016 Rajith Savanadasa had written a few drafts of his first novel, and it wasn’t working. It was supposed to be a big novel about a Sri Lankan family that also commented on the country, culture and politics and the civil war that had raged for 25 years… Read more »

Book Review: ‘The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia’

by Hugh White, ‘The Lowy Interpreter, Sydney, Australia, July 4, 2016 To read Kurt Campbell’s reply to this review, see below or click here. As Assistant Secretary of State for Asia in Barack Obama’s first term, Kurt Campbell has a respectable claim to being the principal architect of the president’s Pivot to Asia. Not surprisingly, then,… Read more »

Tamil Culture and Trade in the Past

by Sachi Sri Kantha, May 25, 2016 Book Review: Tamil Trade and Cultural Exchange, by N. Parameswaran, self published, printed at The Print Shoppe, Duraisamy Naicken Street, Chennai, 2005, 170 pp. ISBN 0-646-44934-6.  Though this book was published in 2005, I review it after 11 years for Sangam site readers for two reasons. First, the… Read more »

The Shadow Lines

by N. Kalyan Raman, ‘The Hindu,’ Chennai, May 21, 2016 (Oru Kuurvaalin Nizhalil was published by Kalachuvadu Publications in February 2016.) The first true-life story to emerge from Sri Lanka, the memoir of former LTTE functionary Tamizhini lays bare not just the horrors of war but the tragic moral decline that accompanies it The anti-colonial… Read more »


by Sanjana Hattotuwa, ‘The Sunday Island,’ May 22, 2016 “I didn’t want to die so I had to live. I wanted to live. I wanted to leave” — Commodore Ajith Boyagoda as told to Sunila Galappatti A Long Watch: War, Captivity and Return in Sri Lanka is an unusual book for an avid reader on Sri… Read more »

The English Voice of Tamil Writers

by Mini Krishnan, ‘The Hindu,’ Chennai, May 12, 2016  Lakshmi Holmstrom entered not only the literary texts she selected for translation, but the cultural establishments that produced them A powerful translatorial voice has fallen silent. Once in a long while, we encounter a writer who really changed the literary landscape he or she inhabited. While… Read more »

New Tamil Writing

by Words without Borders, New York, April 2015 This month we present Tamil writing. The Tamil literary tradition of associating images with landscapes informs the fiction and poetry here, as writers locate their considerations of alienation, exile, and diaspora, and address how identities and customs change with both figurative and literal terrain. In tales from… Read more »

Contemporary Tamil Writing from Sri Lanka

Edited by Kannan Muthukrishnan, Rebecca Whittington, D. Senthil Babu & David C. Buck Paperback: 304 pages Publisher: Penguin Books India (1 December 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 0143423045 ISBN-13: 978-0143423041 Kannan Muthukrishnan (b. 1968) heads the Programme on Contemporary Tamil Culture, Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry. Rebecca Whittington (b. 1987) is a PhD student… Read more »

An Anthology Of Sri Lankan Literature

Edited by Shyam Selvadurai, May 2014 Paperback Publisher: Penguin Books Limited (India) Language: English ISBN-10: 0143423037 ISBN-13: 978-0143423034 About the book Shyam Selvadurai pieces together the best of Sri Lankan poetry and fiction in this anthology. From the Sinhala and Tamil writers of the 1950s to diasporic writers of today, from stories of love and… Read more »

‘Hundred Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka’

by Sachi Sri Kantha, April 4, 2016 Book Review: Hundred Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka – Ancient, Medieval and Modern, by Sanmugam Arumugam (edited by Thirumugam Arumugam), Ohm Books, UK, 2014, 238 pages. ISBN 978-0-9575023-4-5. This book is a combined edition of two books, published previously in 1980 and 1991 by civil engineer and Hindu… Read more »

‘Modern Tamils & the Tamil National Question’

Two books by Nagaratnam Parameswaran are now available on Kindle via Amazon. Modern Tamils and Tamil National Question: Sri Lanka/Ilankai 1798-2012 This book is the third and final in the series on the history of the Sri Lankan Tamils. As its title states, it covers the modern period of British rule of the island (1796… Read more »