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Book Review: This Divided Island by Samanth Subramanian

This-Divided-Island‘In the wretchedness stakes of post-war Sri Lanka, there was always somebody worse off. Even hitting rock bottom was difficult because it was so thickly carpeted by the dead.’

This poignant line left me speechless; even though I was in the middle of Durga Puja revelry, I was numbed after I turned the last page of this book. An outsider’s perspective into the ethnic cleansing and civil war in Sri Lanka, This Divided Island is brutal, starkly humane and a non-partisan account of the woes of the island nation which was once known as the Golden Kingdom.

One of the biggest factors that works in favour of the book is that the book is a narrative of the local people. These are real stories, recounted by common people on the ground. Spanning years, even decades, the stories never fail to connect to the reader’s heart. The author deserves credit for putting forth such a complex subject in such a simple format, without trivialising the pain and suffering of the people.

This Divided Island is a perfect example of investigative journalism. It is an account of people – both the Sinhalese and those who support the Tigers – without even the slightest attempt by the author to force his own views down the readers’ throats.

There is a saying in Bangla: Rajaye Rajaye juddho hoy, ulu khagrar pran jay (Kings fight, subjects suffer). The takeaway from This Divided Island is no different. At the end of the Lankan Civil War, there is no winner. People have lost. That remains the truth.

Buy the book here.

Blurb of the book

Samanth Subramanian gives us an extraordinary account of the Sri Lankan war and the lives it changed. Taking us to the ghosts of summers past and to other battles from other times, he draws out the story of Sri Lanka today-an exhausted, disturbed society, still hot from the embers of the war. Through travels and conversations, he examines how people reconcile themselves to violence, how religion and state conspire, how the powerful become cruel and how victory can be put to the task of reshaping memory and burying histories.

This Divided Island is a harrowing and humane investigation of a country still inflamed.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

P.S. – This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme

DISCLAIMER: Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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