Ahilan, Packiyanathan: Then There Were No Witnesses
Then There Were No Witnesses (Bilingual) by Packiyanathan Ahilan. Translated from the Tamil by Geetha Sukumaran (Mawenzi House/TSAR publishers, paperback)
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
Publisher Marketing: Translated from the Tamil by Geetha Sukumaran. Bilingual edition. Since the 1980s, Tamil poetry from Sri Lanka, taking a new turn to reflect the troubles in the country, has served as a counter-memory, a witness for, torture, loss, trauma and exile. Ahilan gives us a unique voice and style, in which he expresses the violence in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka with great nuance and subtlety. His background as art historian has allowed him to blend the two-thousand-year-old Tamil cultural, literary and philosophic tradition with visual, graphic imagery to create a rich and distinct body of poetry.
"This is a powerful, essential, book that should be read by all, to understand the unofficial truth of a war in any country where 'the Watchtowers lying awake / on the face of the sea / do not rest.'"—Michael Ondaatje
"If Raul Zurita describes the horrors of Chilean massacres by a visceral figuration of the landscape, Ahilan turns his unflinching gaze on the mutilated body itself, making it possible to bring into the syntax of the poem that which usually stays in the coroner's report. Some are love poems, some nostalgic for a time before the wars, but they are all poems of the battered survivor, desperate to remember the dead. Ahilan is a national treasure, and we are grateful to Geetha Sukumaran for her sensitive translation, careful notes and stunning introduction."—Anushiya Ramaswamy