• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam

This is introspective literary fiction in which Krishan examines his young life, analyzes the romantic twists and turns he's experienced, and questions his place in the world.

At the beginning of Arudpragasam's A Passage North, twentysomething Krishan has moved home to live with his mother and grandmother in the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Then he receives a message that Rani, his grandmother's former caregiver, who lived in the household with all of them for a time, has died suddenly at her family's rural home in the north.

He begins the long journey to the war-torn area of northern Sri Lanka to pay tribute to Rani, and along the way he's forced to more fully consider the devastating effects of his nation's thirty-year-long civil war as he views the destruction along his route.

The process of letting go of a person was always done in gradual stages, from what he'd seen, from the actual body to a reduced body to a symbolic body that was always kept in the house, an acknowledgment both of the difficulty of giving up the body and also of the fact that the bodies of the ones we love can never be fully renounced.

A Passage North is introspective literary fiction in which Krishan examines his young life, analyzes the romantic twists and turns he's experienced, and questions his place in the world. We spend the bulk of the page time within Krishan's swirling thoughts and in his head. Much of the book focuses on Krishan's revisiting of the past as he considers various aspects of war and love, but his journey to the north inspires him to consider issues of class and loyalty and family in ways he hadn't before.

This is a slow journey and often so lovely that I marked to save endless long passages about loss, letting go, aging, and interpreting the world.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Arudpragasam is also the author of The Story of a Brief Marriage.

I received a prepublication digital copy of this title courtesy of Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley.