Broken Jaw

I remember my two older daughters running towards the rocks. 
That last picture keeps coming back: their long legs running with laughter across the exposed sand.
I never called them back. I never called them back.
I call and call them now but they keep running on.

from ‘The Waves’, a Tsunami story


The writers were at the table, eating each others’ words. Delicate morsels of sliced crime, tangy segments of romance, silver spoonerisms washed down with a glass of iced humour that turned the lips green.

from ‘A Feast of Words’

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My collection of short stories, Broken Jaw, focuses on the challenges of finding a voice. All the stories were written during or soon after the close of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and speak against silences – official and unofficial – testing the limits of what can be said. The collection is divided into two parts, ‘Rumours’ and ‘Ventriloquy and Other Acts’, that take the reader on a journey from the public world of political conflict to the private space of home, from the dislocations of violence and migration to a personal quest for peace and renewal, charting the emergence of a speaking voice in the context of its suppression and denial.

Stories in the volume include ‘The Breach’, set in the final weeks of the war; ‘A Feast of Words’, which engages with freedom of expression and the disappearance of the journalist, Prageeth Eknaligoda; and ‘The Waves’, which is based on the voices of survivors of the Boxing Day tsunami.

The stories in ‘Ventriloquy Other Acts’ comprise a triptych that transport the reader to the memoried landscape of three countries that shaped me: Sri Lanka, Malaysia and England.

My short stories have also been published in Wasafiri, South Asian Review, The Missing Slate (as Story of the Month) and Short Story; anthologized in Bridges: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, The Radiance of the Short Story: Fiction from Around the Globe and True Tales from the Old Hill; and commercially produced on the CD, Commonwealth Short Stories 2009: Voices from our World (Commonwealth Foundation and CBA).

As writer and academic, I have long supported and participated in the biennial International Short Story Conference.

 

Republic of Consciousness Shortlist


Broken Jaw was one of five books shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2020. An event celebrating the prize – including a complete set of readings from the shortlist – had been scheduled to take place at the Brick Lane Bookshop in London on 19 March. This event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Shortlisted writers gave 3-minute video readings instead.

Here is my reading from the book:

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