A Passage North, by Anuk Arudpragasam

21 September 2021
A Passage North, by Anuk Arudpragasam, book cover

A Passage North, (published by Granta Books, 15 July 2021), is the second novel of Colombo, Sri Lanka, born novelist Anuk Arudpragasam, and was included on the Booker Prize shortlist last week. Set in the wake of the thirty year long civil war that devastated much of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, the story follows Krishan, a young Tamil man, as he makes his way from Colombo to the war ravaged north.

The death of Rana, his late grandmother’s former carer precipitates the long train journey. While travelling to Kilinochchi, Krishan contemplates an email from Anjum, his ex-girlfriend whom he met while living in Delhi, India. This message is the first contact with her in four years, after she ended the relationship to prioritise her activist interests.

Arudpragasam’s work is influenced by late Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, and this manifests itself in the long sentences and paragraphs that are replete throughout the novel. Dialogue is non-existent, as is a focus on story and setting, and it is this less than standard approach to writing that sets A Passage North apart from other works of literature.

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