A Passage North ~ by Anuk Arudpragasam

This was disappointing.  I might have enjoyed it when I was younger, in the 1980s or something, but now?  It was included in the Booker Prize short list for 2021 and the Booker Prize reading group finally got to it on our year-long schedule. So I’ve been looking forward to this book since the lists were announced about 14 or 15 months ago,  I’ve read books about Sri Lanka and its ugly Civil War before but not books like this one. Michael  Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost and Reef by Romesh Gunesekera were great. 

A Passage North
By Anuk Arudpragasam
Read by Neil Shah: 9 hrs and 15 mins
2021 (304 pages) 
Rating – 7 / Literary Fiction

A Sri Lankan family gets a phone call informing them that their aging Grandmother’s personal caretaker, on leave with her own family in Northern Sri Lanka, has died suddenly. She fell in a well and broke her neck.

The grandson goes to the war-torn North to check for the family. While on the bus he thinks and remembers.He has just gotten an email from an old girlfriend so he remembers his time with her. And he thinks about love and life and yearning. Then he thinks about the poverty of the people in the North who are fighting for their own government and he knows he, personally, has it very easy – what should he do?.  He remembers the caretaker how the caretaker mourned her sons.  

Imo, this was an overly ambitious and ultimately depressing book.  Arudpragasam writes very well but he seems to really like his own voice, too..  I did finish it – 


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