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About Anuk Arudpragasam
Anuk Arudpragasam was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He studied philosophy in the United States, receiving a doctorate at Columbia University. His first novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, was translated into seven languages, won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.
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Books By Anuk Arudpragasam
“A novel of tragic power and uncommon beauty.”—Anthony Marra
“One of the most individual minds of their generation.”—Financial Times
SHORTLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, NPR
A Passage North begins with a message from out of the blue: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances—found at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishnan fell in love with years before while living in Delhi, stirring old memories and desires from a world he left behind.
As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for Rani’s funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, as well as an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s thirty-year civil war, this procession to a pyre “at the end of the earth” lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.
Written with precision and grace, Anuk Arudpragasam’s masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of devastation, and a poignant memorial for those lost and those still living.
Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
“Brave…Brilliant…This is a book that makes one kneel before the elegance of the human spirit and the yearning that is at the essence of every life.” —The New York Times Book Review
"One of the best books I have read in years." —Colm Toibin
Two and a half decades into a devastating civil war, Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority is pushed inexorably towards the coast by the advancing army. Amongst the evacuees is Dinesh, whose world has contracted to a makeshift camp where time is measured by the shells that fall around him like clockwork. Alienated from family, home, language, and body, he exists in a state of mute acceptance, numb to the violence around him, till he is approached one morning by an old man who makes an unexpected proposal: that Dinesh marry his daughter, Ganga. Marriage, in this world, is an attempt at safety, like the beached fishing boat under which Dinesh huddles during the bombings. As a couple, they would be less likely to be conscripted to fight for the rebels, and less likely to be abused in the case of an army victory. Thrust into this situation of strange intimacy and dependence, Dinesh and Ganga try to come to terms with everything that has happened, hesitantly attempting to awaken to themselves and to one another before the war closes over them once more.
Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage is a feat of extraordinary sensitivity and imagination, a meditation on the fundamental elements of human existence—eating, sleeping, washing, touching, speaking—that give us direction and purpose, even as the world around us collapses. Set over the course of a single day and night, this unflinching debut confronts marriage and war, life and death, bestowing on its subjects the highest dignity, however briefly.
Installé depuis quelques jours à la lisière d’un campement proche d’une clinique improvisée par un médecin ne disposant d’aucun matériel, Dinesh est approché par un homme qui lui propose sa fille en mariage. L’homme vieillissant cherche à assurer l’avenir et la protection de son dernier enfant, car une femme mariée a plus de chances de s’en sortir en cas de rafle des forces gouvernementales ou des rebelles. En quelques heures, Dinesh se trouve uni à cette jeune fille inconnue dont il a désormais la charge.
Un bref mariage raconte alors la première soirée et la première nuit de deux jeunes âmes brisées par des mois de conflits, d’horreur et de deuil. Ou comment, par la simple présence de Ganga, Dinesh retrouve des réflexes humains (parler, se laver, ressentir, pleurer) après des mois d’errance solitaire et de refoulement. Et comment Ganga s’éveille à son corps et à son désir.
Malheureusement, la brutalité reste sourde à l’amour naissant, et cet inespéré retour à la vie sera de courte durée.
Dans une atmosphère tendue par l’omniprésence du danger et de la mort, Anuk Arudpragasam raconte, avec beaucoup d’humanité et de philosophie, les traumatismes de la guerre, tout en décrivant l’éclosion d’un couple. Car si la guerre intensifie et déforme chaque besoin, chaque attitude, il s’agit aussi tout simplement d’un garçon face à une fille pour la première fois.