The first book that I had read about The Sri Lankan War was Ru Freeman’s On Sal Mal Lane. Though it was a work of fiction, it introduced me to the conditions and life of people living in a war zone and terror has become a part of their day to day routine. Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island somewhat satisfied my hunger to know more about The Sri Lankan War, what lead to it and its aftermath. Right after finishing his book, I got an opportunity to listen to him live at an event curated by Jaya Bhattacharjee at the Irish Embassy in Delhi on 16th of October where he spoke about Literature and Conflict. His talk along with Paro Anand and Amandeep Sandhu had a deep impact on the audience present at the event and triggered an interesting discussion among the panel and the audience.
Coming back to the book, The Divided Island talks about an exhausted and disturbed society seen from Subramanian’s eyes. Samanth travelled extensively around the country and conversed with people and tried to understand how the society there is trying to reconcile with constant violence incited by religion fundamentalists and the state. This 320 page book would deeply impact you as people open their hearts out to Samanth and their stories and suffering will make you ponder about all is not well with the world. Our own neighbouring country is constantly battling it out with situations incited by humans leaving them scarred for life.
The chapters mentioning the ‘thombu’, the incidents at the two mosques, and the dangers associated with being a journalist in Sri Lanka moved me to no extent and left me speechless. The violence practiced by practitioners of Buddhism, a way of life known for its teaching to love all living beings and maintaining peace would leave you surprised. The book summarises everything that one wishes to know about Sri Lanka. This harrowing investigation of a war-torn country touches the human side as well is not written with any bias and that is what makes this book what it is.
Book Source: Flipkart
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Price: Rs. 499/-