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A young man journeys into Sri Lanka’s war-torn north in this searing novel of longing, loss, and the legacy of war from the author of The Story of a Brief Marriage.
“A novel of tragic power and uncommon beauty. In his depiction of the processes through which history sculpts human fate, Anuk Arudpragasam achieves something akin to grace.”—Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
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 alive.
About the Author
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. He currently divides his time between India and Sri Lanka.
“A novel of tragic power and uncommon beauty. In his depiction of the processes through which history sculpts human fate, Anuk Arudpragasam achieves something akin to grace.”—Anthony Marra, author of the New York Times bestseller A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“Mesmerizing, political, intimate, unafraid—this is a superb novel, a novel that pays such close, intelligent attention to the world we all live in.”—Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways
“Written with scrupulous attention to nuance and detail, A Passage North captures the rich interior of its protagonist's mind but also contemporary Sri Lanka itself, war-scarred, traumatized. At its center is an exquisite form of noticing, a way of rendering consciousness and handling time that connects Arudpragasam to the great novelists of the past.”—Colm Tóibín, author of
Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary
“Anuk Arudpragasam’s first book already showed what a fine novelist he was and this second novel provides proof, if any were needed, that he is a major writer, vastly accomplished. Life is short but remembering is long. In the aftermath of war, Anuk Arudpragasam’s rich, rewarding sentences return the reader to all that is living.”—Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana
“A profound and disquieting account of the making of a self, of the pressures of history, desire, will, and chance that determine the shape of a life. It’s difficult to think of comparisons for Arudpragasam’s work among current English-language writers; one senses, reading his two extraordinary novels, a new mastery coming into being.”—Garth Greenwell, author of
Cleanness and What Belongs to You
“Anuk Arudpragasam is an artist of revelations. In A Passage North, he continues to map, with beauty, grace, and fire, the responsibilities we carry in a world that is forever on the brink. This is a novel as both an elegy and a love song, not only for a place, but for the souls, living and dead, who are bound to that place—what an unforgettable and perfect reading experience, and one that unearths truths, relentlessly, magically.”—Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters and Run Me to Earth