Monday, September 13, 2010

Under the boot

Growing up in the 1980s in small town coastal Andhra Pradesh, I often played cricket with children who had conspicuous Tamil names. I didn't know much about them except that they all loved cricket and lived in a humble 'Lanka colony'. Later I realised that they were Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.

After reading Shobasakthi's Traitor, I hoped that their stories weren't remotely similar to that of the book's protagonist, Nesakumaran. The story begins and ends in an unknown European city where he's taken refuge. But the civil war that began in 1980s Sri Lanka, with the minority ethnic Tamils fighting for a separate state, gives the story it's flesh and blood. Literally.

It is written as a memoir where the personal and the political and the minute details and the big picture merge. It is about Nesakumaran's journey out of the tiny Palmyra Palm Island through various army camps, interrogation chambers and a nightmare of brutalities with its Shawshank Redemption-like moments. Anushiya Ramaswamy has done a brilliant job of translation.

Full report here Hindustan Times

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