If you're looking for general books on Sri Lanka, our interview with Razeen Sally—a political economist and adviser to the government until March 2020—is a good place to start. If you're interested in reading more about the civil war that tore the country apart from 1983 until 2009, our interview with Ahilan Kadirgamar, now a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka, is a tribute to some of those who died.
Notable Sri Lankan authors include Michael Ondaatje (poet and author of The English Patient), Anuk Arudpragasam, whose novel about the Sri Lankan civil war, A Passage North, was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize and Shehan Karunatilaka whose novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida won the 2022 Booker Prize.
In nonfiction Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge, won the 2021 British Academy Book Prize.
The best books on Sri Lanka, recommended by Razeen Sally
Many visitors to Sri Lanka have been beguiled by its charms, from its hill towns to its beaches, its ancient temples to its friendly people. And yet, for a quarter of a century until 2009, it was torn apart by a brutal civil war. Here, Sri Lanka-born political economist Razeen Sally, author of Return to Sri Lanka: Travels in a Paradoxical Land, recommends the best books to get a better understanding of Sri Lanka and the complexities that make the country so fascinating to visit and read about.
The best books on Sri Lanka, recommended by Ahilan Kadirgamar
In one of the saddest interviews on our site, Sri Lankan activist Ahilan Kadirgamar talks us through the books he hopes will be a source of inspiration to the next generation. He picks the best books on Sri Lanka and its tragic civil war.