Book review: This Divided Island: Stories From The Sri Lankan War

Samanth Subramanian
Atlantic Books, £14.99; ebook, £5.99
Sri Lanka conjures up images of white beaches and blissful backpacker adventures. 

Yet the civil war between the Tamils and Sinhalese only ended in 2009, and the country is still far from healed.

Travelling from town to town, Indian journalist Subramanian meets people who were involved in the war. From Ravi the Tamil who was part of the Sinhalese army, to Nirmala who helped the Tigers (the violent group who campaigned for an independent Tamil state) until they killed her sister, to those who were even close to the monstrous Tiger leader Prabhakaran.

The details of the war are put together by the stories of those who lived through it. The killings and brutality described are shocking, and several passages are tear-jerking.

The writing is both sensitive and powerful, but there’s also light humour. As a Tamil, the writer is clearly very involved in what happened.

This Divided Island is an engaging and moving education, and one that will certainly increase your fascination with this Sri Lanka.


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