Sri Lanka is a small island with a long, violent and enthralling history. Home to thousands of wild elephants, this is a place where natural beauty has endured, indifferent to human tragedy.
Journeying through its regions - some haunted by war, many rarely seen by our eyes - award-winning travel writer John Gimlette interviews ex-presidents and cricketers, tea planters and terrorists, negotiating the complex relationships of diverse communities and the more sinister forms of tourism. Each city raises the ghosts of Portuguese, Dutch or British colonies; each site resurrects a civilization that preceded, and sometimes, outfaced them. The political families of Colombo lead Gimlette through years of turmoil, survivors of the tsunami tell of their recovery and the thorny truths of the civil war emerge - a war whose wounds have yet to heal.
As he walks in the steps of old conquerors, follows the secret paths of elephants and marches alongside pilgrims, Gimlette seeks the soul of a country that is striving to free itself from trauma and embody an identity to match its vitality, its power and its people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Gimlette is the winner of the Shiva Naipaul Prize for Travel Writing. He crossed the Soviet Union at the age of seventeen, worked in Argentina on the eve of war and has travelled to over eighty countries. He has published four previous books: At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, Theatre of Fish, Panther Soup and Wild Coast (winner of the Dolman Travel Book Prize) which have all featured on Radio 4, and contributes articles and photographs to various newspapers and magazines. He lives in London where he practices as a barrister.