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The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka's Civil War Paperback – October 20, 2015
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“The Seasons of Trouble is devastatingly good. Rohini Mohan’s intimately rendered account of the brutal end-game and unfinished aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war is breathtakingly well-told. By focusing on the lives of three Tamils and telling their stories in novelistic detail, Mohan has revealed a modern tragedy of truly epic proportions. Haunting and unforgettable.”
—Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker
“A remarkable feat of empathy. Mohan paints her characters with such emotional richness that it’s hard to believe the work is not a product of her imagination but of five years of painstaking reporting.”
—Adrian Chen, Slate (“Best Books of 2014”)
“Mohan captures a country of dueling narratives as irreconcilable as those of the Palestinians and the Israelis, of suspicions and betrayals instigated by an all-powerful security apparatus.”
—New York Review of Books
“Rohini Mohan offers a fine-grained account of the Rajapaksa years. Her narrative interweaves the fates of two former LTTE fighters, and one of their mothers, as they navigate their way through postwar Sri Lanka. She enters the minds of her subjects with care, never presuming to know more about her subjects than they know themselves. She also never allows her portraits of people to obstruct the larger story, as she documents the continuities and ruptures between civil war and peace: the tortures that continue in Sri Lanka’s prisons, the reviling of former LTTE female fighters by those who once cheered them on, the rising animus towards Muslims, and a new economic regime which, in its pursuit of foreign investment, has caused the stagnation of real wages.”
—London Review of Books
“Using three lives—an abducted son, a searching mother, and a child soldier—Mohan gets close enough to show the unraveling of not only a people but individuals and families … Mohan combines years of superb journalism with a novelist’s touch to give a vividly brutal and beautiful look at humans surviving the still-violent aftermath of a civil war.”
“A penetrating account of the stories of Tamil survivors of the conflict.”
—LA Review of Books
“Gripping and profoundly moving ... Rohini Mohan has produced an astonishing feat of reportage.”
—Charles Mahtesian, NPR (“2014’s Great Reads”)
“In large part a chronicle of war and its aftermath, Mohan’s impressive study is also a Kafkaesque story of survival in a society riven by ethnic tensions and mutual distrust.”
—Lucy Popescu, Times Literary Supplement
“Extraordinary rendering of the brutal denouement of the war between the Sri Lankan state and the Tamil rebels … The effect of these three interwoven narratives is haunting, and The Seasons of Trouble is a work of daring empathy. Mohan manages to give us direct access to the worldview of impoverished Tamil villagers and the seemingly Faustian choices they face … This is Sri Lanka’s tragedy, but it is also Mohan’s triumph.”
—Anand Gopal, Bookforum
“Governments seriously contemplating Sri Lanka’s model would be wise to read The Seasons of Trouble. It isn’t a traditional political study, but Mohan doesn’t intend it to be. Instead, by focusing intimately on the lives of three individuals—their daily struggles, the shared hurt and trauma—she has produced an ambitious, thoroughly engrossing work that informs the mind while simultaneously unsettling the heart.”
—The American Interest
“Seasons of Trouble, though nonfiction, does what novels do best: it allows us into the hearts and minds of people who might be very different from us, but with whom we come to have a great empathy through inhabiting their lives.”
—Shyam Selvadurai, author of Funny Boy and The Hungry Ghosts
“Poetic … a thoroughly absorbing book.”
“A significant, though heartrending, account.”
—Alan Moores, Booklist
About the Author
Rohini Mohan is a political journalist based in Bangalore, India. She has won prestigious recognition for her work, including the Charles Wallace Fellowship 2013; the ICRC Humanitarian Reporting Award 2012, New Delhi; the Sanskriti–Prabha Dutt Fellowship 2012, New Delhi; and the South Asian Journalists Association award 2011, New York. She has written for Tehelka, the Caravan, Outlook, the Hindu and the New York Times. Her website is pebblesthrow.blogspot.co.uk.
From the Hardcover edition.
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This is superb book. I can hardly imagine how the author managed to put it together. It reads like a novel yet feels so immediate as well.
I had read Ondaatje's 'Anil's Ghost' in the past, but wasn't left with a very strong sense of Sri Lanka or its history. With this book, I feel I've learnt a lot.
Just take my word for it. Buy this book. Read it. Thank me later. You'll be better of for having read it.
Crystalline journalistic prose sketches out the human cost of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka trapped between a violent Tamil movement that cannot sustain itself, and a violent Sinhalese government that seeks to totally eradicate ethnic resistance. Mugil the female child soldier turned mother, sister, wife is a haunting figure. It's hard to believe that she's real, and not a made-up heroine along the lines of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
However extraordinary times make for extraordinary tales, and you feel a mix of despair and hope for these families - repeatedly crushed in the gears of machinations far beyond their capacity of estimation.