Anuk Arudpragasam’s ‘A Passage North’ in 2021 Booker Prize longlist

By Easwaran Rutnam

Anuk Arudpragasam’s ‘A Passage North’ has been included in the 2021 Booker Prize longlist announced today.

The 13 books on this year’s longlist were chosen by the 2021 judging panel: historian Maya Jasanoff (chair); writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.

The list was chosen from 158 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.

The Booker Prize for Fiction is open to works by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.

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. (Colombo Gazette)

1 COMMENT

  1. “Found at the bottom of a well,” did a frogman decide to dive into the well? I was also under the impression that dead bodies floated. Was there a coronial inquiry into the cause of death, given the mysterious broken neck ? Oops, sorry, it is a work of fiction, I forgot. Umm, were there daffodils and butterflies around the well (reads better than flies) ?

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