Shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2017
Most children have two whole legs and two whole arms but this little six-year-old that Dinesh was carrying had already lost one leg, the right one from the lower thigh down, and was now about to lose his right arm.
Dinesh is a young man trapped on the frontlines between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers.
Desensitised to the horror all around him, life has been pared back to the essentials: eat, sleep, survive. All this changes when he is approached one morning by an older man who asks him to marry his daughter Ganga, hoping that victorious soldiers will be less likely to harm a married woman.
For a few brief hours, Dinesh and Ganga tentatively explore their new and unexpected connection, trying to understand themselves and each other, until the war once more closes over them. Told in meditative, nuanced and powerful prose, this shattering novel marks the arrival of an extraordinary new literary voice.
‘The novel both implicitly and explicitly raises crucial questions about the aesthetic and ethical stakes involved in regarding the suffering of others.’ – The Guardian
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 152 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 12 mm
Very seldom in a reading life does a novel alter your sense not only of literature but of the world. This extraordinary debut is of that class: a novel of consciousness unrelenting in its devotion to the imperiled body; an exquisite, unbearably moving work of art equally alive to brutality and tenderness. Anuk Arudpragasam has written a great book. I will never forget it
Anuk Arudpragasam's novel is a work of furious, hypnotic beauty -- honest and unsparing in its engagement with the consequences of war, and brilliantly tender and generous in its portrayal of love
A closely-focused hypnotic novel of serious intensity
An essential book, and not just because its setting and its subject matter are essential, but because it is so awake to - in fact haunted by -elements of experience that rarely make it onto the page. The Story of a Brief Marriage examines the violence and tenderness of human beings in a time of war, but one suspects that Anuk Arudpragasam could choose to write about anybody, in any circumstance, and through his pen one would feel the mysterious tug of time upon their senses and the nakedness of their minds before the world
This small story of a brief marriage sends out ripples far beyond its parameters: it bears witness to the lives and suffering of those thousands of men, women, and children who perished in the last days of Sri Lanka's civil war, whose numbers are still uncounted and who lie in unmarked graves. When future generations want to understand, in human terms, what happened, they will read this graceful masterpiece
Anuk Arudpragasam's The Story of a Brief Marriage opens with some of the most extraordinary pages I have come across in recent years and then continues to amaze. Unafraid to look its huge subjects - death, war, life, love - straight in the eye, it nonetheless remains marvelously, miraculously light on its feet. Arudpragasam writes with courage, precision and tenderness. You feel it in every sentence. Read this novel. See what he has done
I loved The Story of a Brief Marriage. I loved the delicacy in the language, which seemed to me to have the quality of thought unfolding. This is a novel written with such care, such devoted noticing: it's a special writer whose mind alights on the way a thumb was "still hurting from holding the scissors", or how climbing a ladder you sometimes feel "nothing but the run around which your toes are curled".
An essential book, and not just because its setting and its subject matter are essential but because it is so awake to - in fact haunted by - elements of experience that rarely make it onto the page. The Story of a Brief Marriage examines the violence and tenderness of human beings in a time of war, but one suspects that Anuk Arudpragasam could choose to write about anybody, in any circumstance, and through his pen one would feel the mysterious tug of time upon their senses and the nakedness of their minds before the world
The Story of a Brief Marriage contains a series of mesmerizingly visceral scenes. It's short and riveting, but I had to read it slowly to give its deep power time to unfold, the sublime beauty of love and the stark cruelty of war evoked through the truths or the body. It's an amazing novel. I can't forget it.
With care and precision, Arudpragasam delivers a deeply contemplative, psychological portrait of war and how quickly language and memory fall away in the face of constant terror. Arudpragasam writes in long, breathless passages, following the trail of Dinesh's apprehensions about sex, survival, and intimacy. For all the bombs that devastate Dinesh's country, this novel offers instead the 'strange, weightless stillness' or trauma's emotional aftermath. An incisive glimpse into the brutality of war and then tender, human urge to connect in the face of death and destruction.
Anuk Arudpragasam's extraordinary debut shies away from nothing in its unassuming approach and narrative -- wishes and hopes for life, love and safe place called home. Cast against the upheaval wrought by a particular conflict in a very particular (single day's) time, this story is one with resonance for so many other conflicts that our world presently knows and suffers. This book is beautiful, brave, quietly profound
The horrors of the world's constant wars have been well chronicled in many recent novels and The Story of a Brief Marriage takes its rightful place among them as one of the best. This spare work conveys not only the indiscriminate loss of life but also the abandonment of all hope and feeling. As young Dinesh and Ganga struggle to maintain their humanity in the face of circumstances they cannot control, it makes the inevitable ending that much more poignant and heart rending
The Story of a Brief Marriage is astounding. Anuk Arudpragasam has done something so brilliant and so simple I'm still reeling. He's written a book about the great subjects, love war, life, and death. But he's done it through the lens of the body. So close you will feel it in your own body. I've been waiting decades for this book. I think I started writing because I wanted to read this book.
In Dinesh, Arudpragasam creates a wholly empathetic and doting character... The author crafts flowing, beautifully sentences that put readers in the middle of the camp with Dinesh and Ganga. Dinesh finds beauty in the worst of situations, which contributes to making this debut moving and hopeful.
Beautifully descriptive... Haunting... This gorgeously written novel is similar to Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadows of the Banyan in the way it captures intimate human experiences in the face of war.
A devastating novel... it's unlike anything I've read