A Human Document
Indu Mallah
MANY ROADS THROUGH PARADISE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF SRI LANKAN LITERATURE by Shyam Selvadurai Penguin Books, 2014, 481 pp., 499
December 2014, volume 38, No 12

Shyam Selvadurai, who has edited Many Roads Through Paradise, an anthology of Sri Lankan writers is a writer of acclaim, and has published several books, many of which have won prestigious awards.

Browsing through the book, I felt I was meeting old friends. Many of the writers’ and poets’ names were familiar, and many pieces in the book are excerpts from books I had already read. The introduction to the book by the author evoked an intense feeling of deja vu in me. Like Selvadurai, I too, had had a ‘colonial’ childhood; my introduction to the world of books had also been through English books; I too had been taken to a favourite book-shop  from time to time, by an indulgent relative; in my case too, these trips had always been followed up by visits to a patisserie….

The book is divided into five different sections, arranged thematically, under different headings. For example, ‘The Chariot And The Moon’, which takes its title from an eponymous poem, is about class-conflict. ‘No State No Dog’ deals with displacement;  passion and loss inform  ‘Love In The Tsunami,’ while ‘Healing the Forest’ is devoted entirely to the ethnic war in Sri Lanka from 1983 onward.

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