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At once subtle and shocking, powerful and probing, Minoli Salgado’s beautifully-written account of an island-wide journey through her ancestral home of Sri Lanka unearths concealed political violence through the stories of twelve victim survivors of the country’s twenty-six year civil war.
Written with deep insight and sensitivity, Twelve Cries from Home is an intimate, unsettling and daring work of witness that links speakers and listeners in ways that test and transgress the boundaries of place, time and genre. It offers fresh insights into the messy aftermath of war, exposing the tangle of relationships that connects victims and perpetrators and the different ways in which revenge is understood and reconciliation performed. It also offers a devastating critique of official denials and dismissals of torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings.
Reaching towards a future in which the voices of victims everywhere will be heard, each story in this remarkable work of travelling witness is chiselled into a “memory stone”, hurled in defiance against the silencing of historical truths.
Minoli Salgado is a novelist and academic who has written widely on literature from the cultural margins and witness writing. She is the author of three books that focus on the impact of the Sri Lankan civil war: Writing Sri Lanka: Literature, Resistance and the Politics of Place (Routledge 2007), A Little Dust on the Eyes (Peepal Tree Press 2014) and Broken Jaw (87 Press 2019). She is Professor of International Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“A man with parts of a bomb still inside him, a lost son who was kidnapped for his blood, a pregnant woman with her child cut out; these are the everyday horrors of the war fought in Sri Lanka. Minoli Salgado listens and takes testimony, years later, from the civilian survivors, all still traumatised. This is painstaking, necessary work. This collection of true stories is the vital afterwork of any war. It must be done and carefully and with the deepest integrity. Here, Salgado collects and records testimony from those caught up. We gasp at what is being shared. It must be shared, read, heard, collected, disseminated. This is prize winning work.”
“A deeply sensitive and sensitizing book that offers a sophisticated understanding of real pain. Twelve Cries From Home is driven by a humanity that provides moral anchor in a terrain where the darkest instincts reign free.”
“A valuable document of testimony gathered during a brief time of greater openness in a country still shattered by war and cruelty.”