Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Review: Noontide Toll

Sri Lanka is a land of arguments. Arguments that cause punch-ups on live TV, shoot-outs during elections, riots over religion, and wars that go on for decades. Our civil war may have ended five years ago, but the arguments never stopped – over why we harass minorities, why we silence journalists and why even countries with dodgy human rights records find us offensive. Then there are the arguments over whom the island belongs to, who deserves justice and how the war was won and lost… Vasantha’s thoughts are the soul of the book, rambling and poetic, wrapped in folksy wit and shrewd observation. Through him, Romesh Gunesekera examines the central argument that continues to rage across the island and its many roads. How should Sri Lanka address its past? Do we dig it up or do we bury it?

Autobiography of Actor-politician S.S. Rajendran

by Sachi Sri Kantha, January 3, 2015 Book: Nan Vantha Pathai [The Path I Trod], by S.S. Rajendran, Akani Veliyeedu, Vandavasi, Sept 2014, 392 pp, Indian rupees 500. Sedapatti Suryanarayana Thevar Rajendran (affectionately known as SSR by Tamilians) was a founder member of DMK party and contributed to its growth for the first 20 years,… Read more »

Sri Lanka: Hiding The Elephant

Sri Lanka Hiding the Elephant: A Perspective On The Author Professor Ramu Manivannan It was such an honour to introduce Prof. Ramu Manivannan, the author of the hugely compelling book Sri Lanka: Hiding the Elephant – Documenting Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, at its launch in Toronto Canada on 13, December 2014. The… Read more »

The Seasons of Trouble

2012 piece by Rohini Mohan in Caravan Magazine ————— From Verso Press: The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan “A significant, though heartrending, account.” –Alan Moores, Booklist For three decades, Sri Lanka’s civil war tore communities apart. In 2009, the Sri Lankan army finally defeated the separatist Tamil… Read more »

Sri Lanka: Where Disappearances Served as a National Security Imperative

Thomson-Senanayake’s study explores these historical fault-lines through the manner in which disappearances served as an integral part of a system of state power and patronage during 1971-2002, ‘to enable the political elite to immobilise all political opposition.’ This is a reading of history which peels away the skin of ideological preoccupations and exposes the truth for what it is, simply a ruthless appropriation of ancient mistrusts and convenient mythologies to serve the political purposes of governments and oppositions.

‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’

Review by Nadifa Mohamed, ‘The New York Times,’ September 26, 2014 In one of the many startling scenes in “Island of a Thousand Mirrors,” Nayomi Munaweera’s first novel, a Sri Lankan girl riding the train to school is suddenly surrounded by a machete-wielding mob, who demand proof she isn’t Tamil. In her panic, she recites… Read more »

Sri Lanka’s Secrets

by Trevor Grant, Monash University Publishing, Australia Date:  2014.  ISBN: 9781922235534 (paperback). Pages: 220, of which about 90 consist of photographs. Epigraph: The battle against power is the battle of remembering against forgetting (Milan Kundera). With a foreword by Geoffrey Robertson QC As the civil war in Sri Lanka drew to its bloody end in… Read more »

‘Where Serfdom Thrives’

Dear Sir,We are gradually republishing out-of print books about Tamils in Sri Lanka using print-on-demand.The latest one is titled “Where Serfdom Thrives – The Plantation Tamils of Sri Lanka” by Mayan Vije and published in 1987 by the Tamil Information Centre (TIC). [Madras, India : Published by Tamil Information & Research Unit on behalf of… Read more »

‘This Divided Island’

from Atlantic Books: Pages: 336 ISBN: 9780857895950 In the summer of 2009, the leader of the dreaded Tamil Tiger guerrillas was killed, bringing to a bloody end the stubborn and complicated civil war in Sri Lanka. For nearly thirty years, the war’s fingers had reached everywhere: into the bustle of Colombo, the Buddhist monasteries scattered… Read more »

Sri Lanka – Hiding the Elephant

Ramu Manivannan, Ed., Sri Lanka – Hiding the Elephant: Documenting Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity (Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, Chepauk, Chennai – 600 005), pp. 976, Price Rs. 2000/- Book review by Prof. V. Suryanarayan, ‘South Asia Analysis Group,’ August 13, 2014 Paper No. 5765            … Read more »

Hundred Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka

This book is a combined revised reprint of two books by the late Sanmugam Arumugam.  The two books are Ancient Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka, Second Edition 1982, and More Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka, 1991.  These two books have long been out of print. Ancient Hindu Temples describes 52 Temples, including the oldest Hindu… Read more »

“Exorcising the Past and Holding the Vision”

In the context of the strife which has engulfed this country in the last three decades, this book is essential reading. It offers the personal point of view of a man, who was a protagonist in events in the North during a critical stage in the evolution of Sinhala/Tamil relations, events which were accurate precursors of the nightmare to follow 20 years later.

“More than the power it derives from an overwhelming superiority in numbers, what exalts any majority community, and endows it with a true greatness and moral authority, is its willingness to accord to all those other communities who lack the advantage of numbers, a status and dignity equal to its own, and never let them feel marginalized or disadvantaged because they are fewer in number, or because they are different in colour or beliefs.

Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka

ISBN10: 0–415–35920–1 (Print Edition) ISBN13: 9–78–0–415–35920–7 Entire book at Book review at Table of Contents 1 Introduction: Buddhism, conflict and violence 1 MAHINDA DEEGALLE 2 Is the Sri Lankan war a Buddhist fundamentalism? 22 RICHARD GOMBRICH 3 Hindu influences on medieval Sri Lankan Buddhist culture 38 JOHN CLIFFORD HOLT 4 The Theravada analysis of conflicts… Read more »

Sea Change

By IAN MORRIS APRIL 17, 2014 This is the latest in a series of insightful books, like “The Revenge of Geography” and “The Coming Anarchy,” in which Robert D. Kaplan, the chief geopolitical analyst at the global intelligence company Stratfor, tries to explain how geography determines destiny — and what we should be doing about it. “Asia’s… Read more »

Spare the Advice

“The technocratic approach ignores what this book will establish as the real cause of poverty — the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights,” he writes.

‘Making It to Semany’

There are very few books written in English so far about what happened in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka during and after the war years.  We are still waiting for ‘The Thin Red Line,’ ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ or ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ to be written about this time. In the meantime, the novels are… Read more »

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Asia

Part IV. Sri Lanka

From Postindependence Ethnic Tensions to Insurgency: Sri Lanka’s Many Missed Opportunities – Chalinda D. Weerasinghe
Sri Lanka: Tackling the LTTE – Kumar Rupesinghe

Public Writings on Sri Lanka Vol. II

  Book Review: Public Writings on Sri Lanka– Vol. II By Charles Sarvan Paper No. 5673                       Dated 26-Mar-2014 (CinnamonTeal Publishing – Dogears Print Media Pvt. Ltd. Tel 91-832-2751509 – E mail: contactus /A_T/ cinnamonteal /D_O_T/ in) For quite sometime, Sri Lanka has been in the news for all the wrong reasons with international criticism over… Read more »

Contemporary Global Tamil Poetry

In Our Translated World Contemporary Global Tamil Poetry A review by Richard L. Reinert, PhD Given the political climate and military turmoil that affected the people of Sri Lanka, one would expect that contemporary Tamil poetry to be underscored by sadness. And so it is in many of the selections in this book written by… Read more »

‘In a Time of Burning’

Words imply literacy, knowledge and awareness; words preserve and pass on history; words communicate experience and so create understanding… In this tragic and terrible situation, the creative energy of Tamils also finds expression – testimony or resistance – in Art; more precisely, in fiction, autobiography, poetry, song, painting and film.