On 9/11 and post-conflict Sri Lanka

For a few years now, I have used Sugi Ganeshananthan‘s articles as a frame of reference for CPJ advocacy in Sri Lanka. Ganeshananthan, a novelist and essayist who teaches at the University of Michigan, writes stories often grounded in current events. Her 2008 novel, Love Marriage, addresses the cultural and familial conflicts that Sri Lankans face all over the world.

In her latest story on Granta‘s website, “The Politics of Grief,” Ganeshananthan writes a deeply moving commentary about Sri Lanka’s inability to deal with the aftermath of its civil war and draws a parallel to the situation in New York after the September 11 attacks. “Grief is a country that looks different to each person entering it, to be sure. How does one find fellowship or shelter in loss?” she asks.

I don’t know that we do find shelter in loss or that the aftermath of a massive trauma is the right harbor for people to gather in, no matter how deeply it defines our common experiences. But Ganeshananthan’s observations are worth reflecting upon if you are coping with a profound loss of any sort: “My grief will not destroy me. In some times and places, we are given the space to build our memorials. Perhaps in others, we must learn to become them, even as we go on.”