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The third novel in the quintet depicts the lives of the people in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka. A time of people leaving, police and army repression, bombs falling indiscriminately, people taken away never to return.
“The reality of their circumstances had drained their lives of colour. It was a time when everyday stabbings, deaths, and shattered limbs were becoming a part of their story. Death swooped before their eyes, randomly snatched people up. It didn’t care if its target was old, young, or newborn. The bombs that exploded with thundering sounds and leaving huge quakes in their wake had stopped many hearts. Some had lost their senses. Many underwent gruesome surgeries, the flesh of thighs grafted onto their faces; Some were amputated at the ankle, or the knee or the hip, many lost their arms. This was the time when wood and wheelchairs substituted for legs. Artificial hands were not much use. It was a time of deprivation, and survival was everything. Our earth/ our days/ when none of it/ is for us/ a time like this/ could not come again…such torment. So Yasothara/ you/ live in this moment… An urging.”
Devakanthan (Bala Kumarasamy) was exiled by the war in Sri Lanka in the early 1980s and lived in India before moving to Canada. He lives in Toronto and is an active member of the Canadian Tamil literary scene as author and arts critic. He is a reader of Sanskrit and ancient Tamil, and has drawn from those influences in some of his works, such as Lankapuram and Kathakalam, being reimaginings of the Ramayana and Mahabarata.
HIS SACRED ARMY, the first volume of the quintet, won the Government of Tamil Nadu Novel of the Year Award (1998), and the quintet as a whole received the Tamil Literary Garden's Best Novel Award (2014).
Nedra Rodrigo was born in Sri Lanka and came to Canada during the civil war. She is a translator, poet, workshop organizer at the York Centre for Asian Research, and arts educator for youth in the York Region District School Board. She is also the founder of the Tamil Studies Symposium at York University. She is the founder and current host of the bilingual, inclusive literary event, the Tam Fam Lit Jam.
Nedra's poetry and essays have been published in various anthologies. Her translation credits include the poetry of R Cheran, Puthuvai Ratnathurai, and V I S Jayapalan in the collection Human Rights and the Arts in Global Asia (Lexington Books, 2017); the memoir In the Shadow of a Sword, published by SAGE YODA Press, India (2020); Kuna Kaviyazhakan's Forest That Took Poison, shortlisted for the inaugural Global Humanities Translation Prize; and the Prison of Dreams quintet. She lives in Toronto.