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SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2015 The vivid and haunting story of Sri Lanka and its brutal thirty-year civil war, from one of India's best new writers.
Samanth Subramanian studied journalism at Pennsylvania State University and international relations at Columbia University. He has written for, among other publications, the Guardian, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Mint, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Policy, New Republic, Foreign Affairs, The National and The Hindu. His first book, Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast, was published by Atlantic Books.
A remarkable book by one of India's most talented young writers of non-fiction... This Divided Island - balanced, observant, good-natured, discursive and frequently witty - is a searingly angry and deeply moving portrayal of the agonies of this conflict... This is a major work, containing oral testimonies from all sides of the conflict, and will stand as a fine literary monument against the government's attempt at imposed forgetfulness. -- William Dalrymple * Observer * In this extraordinary book, Subramanian exposes the fallibility of human beings, forcing us to see how superficial is the veneer of civilised life. This Divided Island is a book of our times, about us and about what we are capable of doing to each other. -- Roma Tearne * Independent * Excellent... The book leaves us with a tantalising sense of the ambiguity of peace and victory: of the new and incongruous conservatism of Sinhalese Buddhism. Subramanian withholds judgement, but the precision of the final descriptions is searing. -- Amit Chaudhuri * Guardian * Excellent, powerful... Subramanian tells this sorry story with verve and compassion, relentlessly tracking down survivors of, and witnesses to, Sri Lanka's agonies * Literary Review * Brutal majoritarians and ruthless insurgents have long monopolised our sense of Sri Lanka. Samanth Subramanian's sensitive account makes us aware of a missing human dimension. Exploring a war-ravaged landscape, he is bracingly alert to the role of ambiguity as well as ideology in human affairs. In This Divided Island, one of our finest young writers of non-fiction reveals the complicated lives lived in their shadow. -- Pankaj Mishra The powerful human stories in This Divided Island - told lucidly and vividly - show what Sri Lankans have won and lost * TLS * With the humility of a truly gifted writer, Samanth Subramanian sets out, not to find firm answers to the reasons behind Sri Lanka's civil war, but rather to be changed and opened up by his journey through this war-ravaged land. His journey becomes ours. The things he discovers, the people he meets, haunt us long after we have closed the pages of this sensitive, poignant book. -- Shyam Selvadurai There is only one word to describe this book: it's a masterpiece, a Book of the Year, even possibly the decade. -- Mani Shankar Aiyar * India Today * A tour de force. Written with journalistic prowess and integrity, the book succeeds in bringing the war uncomfortably close, so close you can smell the blood. -- Vaishna Roy * The Hindu * Like Philip Gourevitch's account of the genocide in Rwanda, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, this is a superbly reported book. -- Rahul Jacob * Business Standard * This is narrative journalism at its most literary, diligently researched reportage presented with poetry and flair. -- Shehan Karunatilaka * Mint * The best book on the subject and, what is more, a book different in kind from nearly all that have appeared this far. -- Shyam Tekwan * Tehelka *