Magazine article New Internationalist

[When Memory Dies]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[When Memory Dies]

Article excerpt

When Memory Dies

WHEN MEMORY DIES, A Sivanandan's epic account of Sri Lanka's slide into terror, is quite the most extraordinary book I have encountered in recent years. Effortlessly interweaving the personal and the political, it spans three generations of a Sri Lankan family and is populated with a throng of characters drawn from most walks of life and thrown into the most challenging circumstances. Three successive sons - Sahadevan, Rajan and Vijay - keep the narrative focused, while other players weave in and out. Throughout there is a sureness of touch that encompasses all the contradictions of avowed belief and the reality of action.

I am no fan of sprawling sagas, but this novel won me over immediately because it embraces all of life, all its details and complications. Sivanandan's characters are people first, capable both of heroism and pettiness, not symbols or political counters. They are intent on finding love, raising kids, earning a living, forging their selves, maintaining wholeness while their country disintegrates around them. …

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