Samanth Subramanian’s latest book builds a portrait of people affected by the Sri Lankan civil war: The Hindu

srilankaA war brings out many memories and stories. There are tales of horror and carnage, of young children being forcibily recruited or new houses being razed to the ground. There are also tales of dark humour. A man is tired of losing his bicycle every time there is an evacuation, decides to slather his cycle with grease and leave it in a well. He is pleased and surprised to discover it right there when he returns many years later. Such tales make the crux of Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island, chronicling the stories of ordinary people impacted by the conflict that afflicted Sri Lanka for almost 23 years.

More travelogue than political polemic, the author’s second book is a haunting revisiting of the Sri Lankan civil war, says Shehan Karunatilaka in The Mint

srilankaConsidering the amount of ink spilled in its name, the Sri Lankan post-war story deserves a subgenre of its own. From that moment in May 2009, when the bloodied head of Tiger boss Velupillai Prabhakaran was hung on the masthead of every newspaper in the land, words have accumulated to describe the island’s post-war experience. It is a shame that none of those words has been “peace”.

Divergent reports of how the north was won have consumed miles of column inches, galaxies of pixels and several works of fiction and reportage. The official story as seen in C.A. Chandraprema’s Gota’s War denies that the government shelled its people, executed its enemies in cold blood, denies that it continues to abduct and torture, and to sponsor the suppression of minorities.