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My current binge reading – Sri Lanka March 31, 2017

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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For pleasure and to take up time during my travels, I read a lot of books. Although I have read a few ebooks, maybe a dozen or two in the past 5 years, I still prefer paper copies. That is familiarity being preferred. My reading tastes are all over the map in both fiction and non-fiction. I go through periods where I prefer one over the other, then within that preference I will get into different genres. So for non-fiction it might be history – world, US, crimes, art history, military history. Each time might have a more dominant theme, like obscure colonial wars as a military history topic. When I had my most recent one of those, it was British wars in South Asi8a and Africa, various colonial wars in the Caribbean, South American wars, wars in the Balkans. For fiction, it is often novels, but I do get into periods favoring short-story collections. Often I prefer books that are either tried-and-true classic literature or books and authors that have won prizes – the Nobel in literature (Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, V. S. Naipal, among others; the Booker prize winners and those books on the short list for it; Pulitzer Prize winners, and the  National Book Award. In this category I might put New York Times bestsellers.

Topics also are a theme. When I read Satanic Verses, just to see what the hubbub was about, I read more Salman Rushdie, then other South Asian authors – Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri, and others.

My current one is focused on books set in or about people from Ceylon/ Sri Lanka. From the British colonial perspective there was A Village in the Jungle by Leonard Wood. Slightly racist, reflecting the attitudes of the British there a century ago. Others were Anil’s Ghost, Cat’s Table, and Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje – most notable for his non-Lanka book The English Patient; Mosquito and Bone China by Roma  Tearne; The Jam Fruit Tree, Colombo, and Yakada Yaka by Carl Muller; The Road from Elephant’s Pass by Nihal de Silva; and Funny Boy by Shyam Selvaderai.

I have read 6 of these 11 so far. The main these is the various eras of troubles between the Sinhalese and Tamils. It reminds me of the theses in India and Bengal (both Indian and Bangladeshi) between Hindus and Sikhs or Hindus and Moslems. It seems that the most major legacy of British rule was lumping together peoples so that in every south Asian nation there is a majority-minority clash.

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