Still in his 20s, Leonard Woolf was the chief administrative and judicial officer in Hambantota, in southern Ceylon. After riding around the area on his bicycle or pony for three years, he concluded that British colonial justice was honest, correct and painstaking, but totally inadequate. In the words of an English contemporary, the system stood still, ”making no advance, having no goal, no policy, no imagination and no vision” to offer a society with three languages, three religions, and multiple agendas. Woolf returned to England, married Virginia Stephen, and dedicated his only novel, The Village in the Jungle (1913) to her. In Sri Lanka, a century later, the system remains as inadequate as he described it, to serve communities that are still divided by the same languages, religions, and agendas. For three decades until 2009 they were at war with each other.
TIGERS DON’T CONFESS. By Visakesa Chandrasekaram.
Frog Books. 308 pp. $20.
Reviewer: ALISON BROINOWSKI
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