by A. Sivanandan - £8.99 Arcadia Books (2007)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781905147595 | ISBN 10: 1905147597
Winner of the Sagittarius Prize.
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
A powerful three-generational saga of a Sri Lankan family's search for coherence and continuity in a country broken by colonial occupation and riven by ethnic wars.
The Buddha taught that to live is to experience suffering. Few family sagas, especially first ones, have captured this aspect of suffering and so many other truths in as lyric a fashion as When Memory Dies. Through the viewpoints of three generations of a Sri Lankan family (taking the reader from 1920 through the 1980s), Sivanandan explores a culture destroyed first by colonization, then through the ethnic divisions that are released when the country achieves independence.
The family, which lives at a level of poverty that makes survival a constant struggle, must also balance love for one another with a deep love of their homeland.
Without bending to romanticism or proselytization, the author evokes a compelling and very human story of a lost country. It is a vision as beautifully told as it is unrelenting in its devotion to truth. In the process, the work also supplies a rich historic background to the often underreported news accounts of the massacres and upheavals in Sri Lanka.
(Price & availability last checked: July 2018)