10 Must read books before visiting Sri Lanka
The Cage: The fight for Sri Lanka & the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers by Gordon Weiss
Gordon Weiss, journalist and a former UN official recounts the final months of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The book offers a fine introduction to the orgins and development of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eela.
Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka by John Gimlette
A stunning memoir by a London solicitor about his journey through Sri Lanka. Combining travel writing and history, Gimlette offers a personal and insightful account of contemporary Sri Lanka and it’s turbulent past.
Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka
This award-winning book tells a story of WG Karunasen; a retired sports journalist, alcoholic and a cricket fanatic who sets on the journey to find a long-forgotten cricket player. Blending fiction with non–fiction the author uses cricket to give a bigger picture of Sri Lankan society and history.
When Memory Dies by Ambalavaner Sivanandan
An historical novel set in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. It tells a story of three generations of a Tamil family spanning the years from just before independence from the British colonial rule to the beginning of the Civil War.
Running in the family by Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje, the author of The English Patient, wrote this memoir after returning to his home country of Ceylon for the first time since immigrating to Canada at the age of eleven. Blending fact and fiction, Ondaatje is trying to find his own identity while learning about the history of his family and country.
Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
Forensic anthropologist Anil Tissera, a native Sri Lankan returns to her home country after spending 15-year living in England and US. Working for United Nation’s human rights organization, Anil together with a local official Sarath investigate a murder that they believe might be politically motivated.
The village in the Jungle by Leonard Woolf
A novel by Leonard Woolf, written in the early decades of the twentieth century and based on experiences he gained while working as a civil servant in British ruled Ceylon. Set in a small village called Beddagama in Sri Lankan jungle, it tells a story of a poor family who struggles to survive the hardships of the jungle and the abuse of neighbors and authorities.
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
A powerful novel set in Sri Lanka during the conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities that led to decades long civil war. The story is narrated by two women, Yasodhara the Sinhalese and Saraswathi the Tamil. Yasodhara and her family left for America at the beginning of the war, whereas Saraswathi grew up in a war zone. Living entirely different lives, their paths cross eventually.
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
A coming of age story set at the beginning of and during the Sri Lankan civil war. The novel follows the journey of Arjie, a young homosexual boy from a wealthy Tamil family, who is trying to come to terms with his sexuality while facing the growing ethnic conflict overtaking the country.
Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai
Novel set among elite classes of 1920’s Colombo, the capital city of British ruled Ceylon. It tells a story of two relatives, a young woman Annalukshmi, who is pressured by her family to get married and give up her teaching career, and Balendran, who has repressed and hidden his homosexuality in fear of disappointing his father.