” In sentences of unusual beauty and clarity, Arudpragasam observes even the most mundane of actions . . . with an attention so absolute it feels devotional. He is equally gifted at atmospheric, sensory description that transports the reader to Sri Lanka and India and at examining the emotions—elation, fear, impatience, satisfaction, shame—that simmer below the surface of our everyday lives.”


Just finished A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam.
Audio version. This book had been short listed for this years Booker Prize.
The story revolves around a man named Krishan who lives with his family in Sri Lanka. This includes his grandmother, who has a live in caretaker named Rhani.

Rhani goes back home for a short visit and while their has an accident and is killed. When Kirshan gets the call his first instinct is not to tell his grandmother for fear of how she will react. She had been ill for awhile and is slowly doing less and less for herself. He does finally tell her, and then decides that he must attend the funeral to represent his grandmother. The funeral will be held in Rhani’s village far in a northern province. He goes by train.
During the trip we hear about Krishan’s life. His former girlfriend is talked about in great detail, giving us deep insight into their relationship and her life style. As he travels further North he tells about the recent unrest in the country, from insurrection to criminal behavior. He gives a very detailed account of many of these events and his feelings on these matters.

There is little to no dialogue in this book. It is a narrative that is eloquently written, and you will have a deep feeling for Kirshan’s views on the conditions of his life and his country, but I also must say that at times the detail became too much and it was easy to have my mind wander while listening and a few times I had to go back and listen again to the reading. In this audio book the chapters are almost all over an hour in length so you would need to make sure you can set at least that time of availability before you get to a break.
If your looking for a book with a good plot this book is probably not for you. For those who love beautiful writing and deep insight into characters than I would think you would really enjoy this book.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 11th November 2021

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Richard Franco