• A Passage North

  • A Novel
  • By: Anuk Arudpragasam
  • Narrated by: Neil Shah
  • Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (92 ratings)

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A Passage North  By  cover art

A Passage North

By: Anuk Arudpragasam
Narrated by: Neil Shah
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Publisher's Summary

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE • A young man journeys into Sri Lanka’s war-torn north in this searing novel of longing, loss, and the legacy of war from the author of The Story of a Brief Marriage. 

“A novel of tragic power and uncommon beauty.”—Anthony Marra
“One of the most individual minds of their generation.”—Financial Times

SHORTLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, NPR

A Passage North begins with a message from out of the blue: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances—found at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishnan fell in love with years before while living in Delhi, stirring old memories and desires from a world he left behind. 

As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for Rani’s funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, as well as an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s thirty-year civil war, this procession to a pyre “at the end of the earth” lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.

Written with precision and grace, Anuk Arudpragasam’s masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of devastation, and a poignant memorial for those lost and those still living.

©2021 Anuk Arudpragasam (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“In sentences of unusual beauty and clarity, Arudpragasam observes even the most mundane of actions...with an attention so absolute it feels devotional. He is equally gifted at atmospheric, sensory description that transports the reader to Sri Lanka and India and at examining the emotions - elation, fear, impatience, satisfaction, shame - that simmer below the surface of our everyday lives.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“An intelligent, quite often moving novel of meditation and aftermath...charged throughout with tension and excitement. 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.... The result...is 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.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

“Written with scrupulous attention to nuance and detail, A Passage North captures the rich interior of its protagonist's mind but also contemporary Sri Lanka itself, war-scarred, traumatized. At its center is an exquisite form of noticing, a way of rendering consciousness and handling time that connects Arudpragasam to the great novelists of the past.” (Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary

What listeners say about A Passage North

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@ Jayantha Hettigama


"A Passage North" the story evolves around Krishan the protagonist ,a young tamil boy born and bred in Colombo.The main plot is a train ride from Colombo to Killinochchi by Krishan to attend the funeral of his grandmother's caretaker ,then the sub plots consists of his thoughts and recollections of his life.
The book also contain recurring passages of his obsessions and grievances of the ethnic conflict that was in the country , possibly to ease his guilt in growing up as a Colombo boy.Too much bragging of his ideals on this issue ,makes the book dull and boring at times.
Also the Author has included gist of other literary works to his book e.g Tamil Periya Purānam, Mega Duthaya , Life of the Buddha etc... in a very clever mannaner.
Overall, the book is impressive and beautifully written , worth reading.His realistic and imaginative writing is commendable.


4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully descriptive

Beautiful and poignant descriptions of Sri Lankan life post-war, and enduring emotions thereof. Thought provoking, tho no real climactic elements to the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautifully written

Beautiful writing about a difficult subject matter. It was heavy listening at times but also very touching, It is a thoughtful exploration of many emotions and situations through the lives of different people.

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An insightful work

At first, I didn’t know if I could get through the long and intricate examinations of everyday experiences. However after awhile, I just rode with it and came to really appreciate Arudpragasam’s insights into experiences that we all have, such as the insecurities of new love or concern about if our life has meaning within the greater historical and political context of our time. His account and thoughts about death and funerals are especially perceptive. This is an unique book; you can feel the influence of the author’s philosophical background. If you can let go of expectations regarding what a novel should be, then reading it can be a very sweet and revealing journey.

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A story delicate ,insightful, and careful but also self absorbed

I think this writer has great potential but this story is slow somewhat plodding,the ruminating na interested in talking and

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book brought me to tears,

it started out slowly but really took off hitting on all the subjects which confront people through out our lives, plus the issue of war and its affect on people tragically....easily could have won Booker Award!!!