Anuk Arudpragasam’s ‘luminously intelligent’ sophomore novel arrives.
On this week’s episode, Anuk Arudpragasam discusses the novel A Passage North (Hogarth, July 13). A companion to his critically acclaimed 2016 debut The Story of a Brief Marriage (winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature), A Passage North poignantly contends with the violence of the Sri Lankan Civil War from a spatial and temporal remove.
Kirkus on A Passage North: “The plot of this book, conventionally speaking, would fit on a cocktail napkin: Krishan, a young Sri Lankan man who lives in the southern city of Colombo and works for a nongovernmental organization there, receives a phone call; takes a long walk, during which he stops to smoke a few cigarettes; makes the titular train journey into the recently war-ravaged north, during which he recalls a love affair now over; attends a village funeral. That's it. And yet the novel is charged throughout with tension and excitement. Part of that derives from Arudpragasam's fierce intelligence and his total commitment to plumbing Krishan's psyche, to following his thoughts patiently, relentlessly, with exquisite subtlety. Not many writers can successfully invite comparison to W.G. Sebald's slow, inward, thoughtful—yet somehow pulse-pounding—novels, but Arudpragasam can and does….[A] novel of philosophic suspense, one whose reader shivers in anticipation not of what will happen next but of where the next thought will lead. A luminously intelligent, psychologically intricate novel—slow in always rewarding ways” (starred review).
Arudpragasam and host Megan Labrise talk about meeting in Brooklyn, in 2016, to discuss The Story of a Brief Marriage; how he sees A Passage North as a companion to his debut novel; the proximity of both narratives to the violence of the Sri Lankan Civil War; adorning a straightforward plot with complex philosophical thoughts; what he studied at Columbia University, where he earned a PhD in philosophy; yearning and desire; receiving compliments; and much more.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, and Laurie Muchnick join with their weekly reading recommendations.
Josephine Against the Sea by Shakira Bourne (Scholastic)
If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins)
Lorna Mott Comes Home by Diane Johnson (Knopf)
Also mentioned in this episode:
Root Magic by Eden Royce (Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins)
Thanks to our advertisers this week:
The Flight of the Veil by Bruce J. Berger
Miss Lucy by William Orem
The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur by Charlene Bell Dietz
Wildflowers and Train Whistles by Lillian Frazer
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.