Archive for August, 2011

31 August, 2011

Huffington Post/Justin Torres

I’m over at the Huffington Post with a review of Justin Torres’ debut fiction, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2011). It is a gem of a book. Here’s an excerpt (below). You can read the entire review here.

We the Animals will surely find a cozy home among the burgeoning shelves of coming-of-age stories. That would be a travesty. It is no more a coming-of-age story than Jamaica Kinkaid’s My Brother is a meditation on siblings or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is simply the story of a journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape. These are books that get to the heart of our relationships to one another, particularly those to whom we are bound by blood. Torres gives us the crux: the way we gather our frailties with tenderness like wildflowers picked in a thorny field through which we walk barefoot, the way we ribbon those bouquets with impossible cruelties and gift them to one another. The way we each consent to take and take.

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22 August, 2011

Huffington Post/Clinton & Jayalalitha

I’m over at the Huffington Post today, writing about Clinton’s recent visit to India and her meeting with the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (and ardent supporter of the LTTE and separatism), J. Jayalalitha. You can read the full article here. Here’s an excerpt:

It is usually the case that America’s foreign policy spokespeople are misinformed to say the least. Here’s a little context as to why neither Clinton nor Blake (who is shown in Lies Agreed Upon meeting with a man who has lectured terrorist cadres on how to raise funds abroad for the procurement of weapons for the LTTE, an organization banned by the US government!), has a clear picture. It is called missing “the ground situation.’

At the Colombo International Airport in Sri Lanka, a Tamil woman about my late mother’s age asks me to watch her bag outside the ladies’ restroom. “We met before at the check-in counter,” she assures me, though I have already nodded. We look at each other for a few silent moments, acknowledging what was not possible for thirty years and what now is: to ask a stranger, particularly a stranger from the “opposite” ethnicity, to watch a bag, parcel or any other “unaccompanied’ item without fearing that it might contain a bomb.

In the streets of Trincomalee and Batticaloa, areas where the majority of the populace speaks, almost exclusively, only Tamil, I, who do not understand Tamil, am still able to recognize and communicate a sense of empathy with my fellow citizens. I ask for directions, food, medicine, they help me, both of us falling back on gestures rather than words, on smiles and, to signify further good-will, the stroking of a child’s face, their sons or my daughters.

On the beaches of Nilaveli, a place I had been prohibited from visiting since I was a little girl, I meet a Tamil man on an early morning walk. He tells me in faltering Sinhalese: “Now that the war is over we can speak. Before this you would have been afraid of me, I would have been afraid of you. We could not travel, there were checkpoints everywhere. Now I am free.”

The Books:

The Books:

On Sal Mal Lane

In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war.

A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling map of womanhood, its desires and loyalties, set against the backdrop of beautiful, politically turbulent, Sri Lanka.


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