When Memory Dies (Paperback)

When Memory Dies By A. Sivanandan Cover Image
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"Haunting, with an immense tenderness . . . Unforgettable" JOHN BERGER
"Profoundly moving" Evening Standard
"A brilliant and moving first novel" Times Literary Supplement
"I'm recommending When Memory Dies to everyone" Arthur C. Clarke


The Buddha taught that to live is to experience suffering. Few family sagas, especially first ones, have captured this aspect of suffering and so many other truths in as lyric a fashion as When Memory Dies.

Through the viewpoints of three generations of a Sri Lankan family (taking the reader from 1920 through the 1980s), Sivanandan explores a culture destroyed first by colonization, then through the ethnic divisions that are released when the country achieves independence.

The family, which lives at a level of poverty that makes survival a constant struggle, must also balance love for one another with a deep love of their homeland. Without bending to romanticism or proselytization, the author evokes a compelling and very human story of a lost country. It is a vision as beautifully told as it is unrelenting in its devotion to truth. In the process, the work also supplies a rich historic background to the often underreported news accounts of the massacres and upheavals in Sri Lanka.

**Winner of the Sagittarius Prize **Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize**

About the Author


A. Sivanandan came to Britain from Ceylon in the wake of the race riots of 1958 - and walked straight into the riots of Notting Hill. Since then he has written and lectured extensively on Black and Third World issues and has published two collections of essays, A Different Hunger and Communities of Resistance. He is founder editor of the journal Race & Class and director of the Institute of Race Relations in London

Praise For…


This rich novel, peopled with unforgettable heroines and heroes, will haunt the reader's mind—Observer

This rich novel, peopled with unforgettable heroines and heroes, will haunt the reader's mind—David Rose, Observer

This rich novel, peopled with unforgettable heroines and heroes, will haunt the reader's mind—Observer

Haunting, with an immense tenderness. The extraordinary poetic tact of this book makes it unforgettable—Guardian

Haunting, with an immense tenderness. The extraordinary poetic tact of this book makes it unforgettable—John Berger, Guardian

Haunting, with an immense tenderness. The extraordinary poetic tact of this book makes it unforgettable—Guardian

There is no rallying cry here, no dwelling on the tragedies of the individual, only an exhortation to memory and constant effort. Sivanandan's sensibilities and instincts are endlessly humane, generous and perceptive—Literary Review

Profoundly moving . . . Sivanandan triumphs in his evocation of a beautiful country he perceives as doomed. His love for the country he has lost is the driving passion of his work'—Evening Standard

There is no rallying cry here, no dwelling on the tragedies of the individual, only an exhortation to memory and constant effort. Sivanandan's sensibilities and instincts are endlessly humane, generous and perceptive—Literary Review

There is no rallying cry here, no dwelling on the tragedies of the individual, only an exhortation to memory and constant effort. Sivanandan's sensibilities and instincts are endlessly humane, generous and perceptive—Literary Review

This is not just a book about Sri Lanka. The struggles it touches upon, both moral and political, face us all: the battle between our hunger for love or learning or success and our need, even passion, for integrity. This is a book of, and about, many lifetimes'—Independent

A brilliant and moving first novel. With a grandeur reminiscent of the great Indonesian novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Sivanandan takes the reader through three generations of a Sri Lankan family. As we move from the days of the hartal in 1920 through independence in 1948 to the neo-liberal pangs of the 1980s, Sri Lankan communalism gathers force like a conquering flood—Times Literary Supplement

Profoundly moving . . . Sivanandan triumphs in his evocation of a beautiful country he perceives as doomed. His love for the country he has lost is the driving passion of his work'—Evening Standard

An extraordinary storyteller who has total control over his material—Athol Fugard

Profoundly moving . . . Sivanandan triumphs in his evocation of a beautiful country he perceives as doomed. His love for the country he has lost is the driving passion of his work'—Evening Standard

This is not just a book about Sri Lanka. The struggles it touches upon, both moral and political, face us all: the battle between our hunger for love or learning or success and our need, even passion, for integrity. This is a book of, and about, many lifetimes'—Independent

Sivanandan's theme - the baneful in£uence of colonialism - is highly political, but he writes with such humanity that what could be dry fact and ideology is transformed into a gripping and inspiring action—Kate Chisholm, Sunday Telegraph

I'm recommending When Memory Dies to everyone—Arthur C. Clarke

This is not just a book about Sri Lanka. The struggles it touches upon, both moral and political, face us all: the battle between our hunger for love or learning or success and our need, even passion, for integrity. This is a book of, and about, many lifetimes'—Independent

A brilliant and moving first novel. With a grandeur reminiscent of the great Indonesian novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Sivanandan takes the reader through three generations of a Sri Lankan family. As we move from the days of the hartal in 1920 through independence in 1948 to the neo-liberal pangs of the 1980s, Sri Lankan communalism gathers force like a conquering flood—Times Literary Supplement

A brilliant and moving first novel. With a grandeur reminiscent of the great Indonesian novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Sivanandan takes the reader through three generations of a Sri Lankan family. As we move from the days of the hartal in 1920 through independence in 1948 to the neo-liberal pangs of the 1980s, Sri Lankan communalism gathers force like a conquering flood—Times Literary Supplement

An extraordinary storyteller who has total control over his material

An extraordinary storyteller who has total control over his material

Sivanandan's theme - the baneful in£uence of colonialism - is highly political, but he writes with such humanity that what could be dry fact and ideology is transformed into a gripping and inspiring action—Sunday Telegraph

Sivanandan's theme - the baneful in£uence of colonialism - is highly political, but he writes with such humanity that what could be dry fact and ideology is transformed into a gripping and inspiring action—Sunday Telegraph

I'm recommending When Memory Dies to everyone

I'm recommending When Memory Dies to everyone
Product Details
ISBN: 9781905147595
ISBN-10: 1905147597
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Publication Date: August 30th, 2007
Pages: 416
Language: English