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The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka's Civil War

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  541 ratings  ·  81 reviews
For three decades, Sri Lanka’s civil war tore communities apart. In 2009, the Sri Lankan army finally defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers guerrillas in a fierce battle that swept up about 300,000 civilians and killed more than 40,000. More than a million had been displaced by the conflict, and the resilient among them still dared to hope. But the next five years changed e ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Verso (first published 2014)
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Alex Linschoten
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some books, as you near the end you speed up as the plot comes to its inevitable conclusion, eager to find out how the story ends. For others, you slow down, not only because the themes of the book have started to intertwine around and inbetween one another, but also because you realise that soon this book will come to an end and this companion of the past few hours or days will start becoming but a memory.
This is superb book. I can hardly imagine how the author managed to put it together. I
Sivananthi T
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel brings together two stories of two families told from different locations, one from Jaffna and the other from Colombo, in order to accurately capture the different types of 'discrimination' and oppression faced by Sri Lankan Tamils after the 2009 'victory'. Neither an LTTE sympathiser, nor a SL Army sympathiser, the book is able to bring out the stories of those captured in a conflict setting, their loyalties, their aspirations, and of course their endless struggle. In this manner, the ...more
Larry Bassett
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trouble is an understatement

My daughter is in Sri Lanka as a Fulbright scholar and recommended this book to me. It offers a somewhat sympathetic treatment of the Tamil Tigers who were declared a terrorist organization by the US and other countries. While there seem to be no good guys in the 30 year Sri Lankan civil war, the personal experiences of some of the Tamil Tigers take you inside the complex era and makes me wonder what my daughter will discover in the current society with such a violent
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
In 2008 the Sri Lankan government ended its decades-long civil war with a brutal final campaign to destroy the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This is the story of that troubled history told through the lives of three people who lived through this conflict, and whose lives are still shaped by its reverberations. The narrative arc begins in the 1980s, leading to the final battle and defeat of the Tigers in 2008, and concluding with the uneasy aftermath of the government victory.

Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am always skeptical when I pick up books on the 26 year civil war in Sri Lanka. As a Tamil myself, I was raised hearing stories of what it was like for my family to live in Sri Lanka as Tamils during the time when the Sri Lankan government enforced discriminatory policies against minorities. I absorbed the stories of riots, and what it was like for family members to flee the shelling as refugees. But I also heard what it was like to be Tamil, growing up in the heart of the Tamil community duri ...more
Rajesh Mehar
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Growing up as a boy in South India, I only knew the vague contours of Sri Lanka's civil war. But beyond the official 'terrorist organization' tag of the LTTE and the tumultuous relationship between India and Sri Lanka in the wake of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, I didn't know much about the country at all. SEASONS OF TROUBLE by ROHINI MOHAN not only told me about the facts of the Sri Lankan civil war but also made me empathize with every single victim of the system of war, whether Sinhalese ...more
A. Khare
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the most articulate narrative of unrest I have read in recent times. Religion is the single most dividing factor which holds humanity at stake. Mindless violence and discrimination is all explained easily without a blink of the eye and accepted by most as a logical explanation. I am enthralled by this book. The narrative is so jointed and precise that I want to congratulate the author on her dedication to her craft. I shed many a tear while reading, but it gave me a complete perspective o ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. Gripping, exhilarating, haunting -- these words barely scratch the surface of this account of the lives of the three main people the author introduces to us. Though it's non-fiction, The Seasons of Trouble reads like a novel with history of the Sri Lankan civil war interspersed amid the peoples' stories. You will get to know Mugil, Sarva, Indra, and all of their families and friends intimately while also learning about their count ...more
Chhimi Tenduf-La
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional book, which gives a different face to a war where we thought it was easy to spot the bad guys and the good guys, but the truth is much more blurry. This author captures that brilliantly, offering a true story that reads like a novel.
Gopal MS
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A riveting book.
Made me wonder ... what if other wars and conflicts are seen through the eyes of women caught in them.

Zara Rahman
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the best book I've read all year. Incredible storytelling, clearly well-researched and thoughtfully put together - she tells the real stories of three people (and their families) during and after the Civil War in Sri Lanka in a raw and honest way. I find that books of this style - where the author is telling someone else's story - often run the risk of coming across patronising or with too much of the author's perspective, but this book avoids those traps completely.

I read this while t
This book gave me a rich understanding about the civil war in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and Tamils community that happens for more than 2 decades. Rohini Mohan's writing is so engaging and beautiful, and she tells the story of the 3 characters in this book (Sarva, Indra and Mugil) with a vivid detail. It reads like a novel yet feels so immediate as well.
Jeff Scott
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Civil War in a place most people cannot find on a map doesn’t make front page news, despite its horror. There is a quote often attributed to Stalin that reads, “One death is a tragedy, and one million deaths is a statistic.” It is the author Rohini Mohan’s intent to take these foreign statistics and make them flesh and blood. Two people, one falsely arrested under a terrorism charge, the other a long time Tamil Tiger attempting to leave the movement, are both caught up in the wrong side of the ...more
A carefully narrated account of how the disruptions of war reshape the lives of the participants. The author’s conversation on the Sources and Methods podcast brought me to this; I’ve done a smattering of readings elsewhere but this is my first book-length introduction to the conflict in Sri Lanka. It brings a strong sense of the conflict’s contours, even as it focuses primarily on the lives of a handful of characters and does not indulge in a lot of background information dumping at the outset, ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, devastating introduction (for me, at least) to the Sri Lankan civil war, told via two individuals' stories. Thoroughly researched and reported. I have some snits about the structure (there were a couple of late revelations that seemed odd, for different reasons), but overall I highly recommend this.
Steven Chaffin
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rohini Mohan astutely illustrates the harsh realities of the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009) through a compelling narrative that follows two Tamil families as they wrestle against an oppressive government and the aftermath of decades old sectarian tensions. Her work can provide insight into the problems that rage on in places like Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and South Sudan among others.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readharder2015
Incredible reporting on the lives of two families during the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. This is a must read for those interested in learning about what gets left behind on the American news room floor.
Harish Narayanan
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Heart-breaking. I was shocked at how little I knew about events that happened right next door.
Gauri Dabholkar
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Amazing book! Rohini Mohan has expressed the stories of three lives trapped in Civil war of Srilanka.
Gut wrenching, disturbing and thought provoking.
Kate Walton
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
So richly told that I sometimes forgot this was non-fiction. Superb.
Paul Gordon
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Deeply affecting, incredible piece of journalism. Seamlessly weaves real life narratives and historical context.
Rachel Lichtman Castaño
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: authors-of-color
An important read about a civil war that never gets talked about, and that I can guarantee does not get taught in schools, even though it was one of the longest and bloodiest civil wars the world has ever seen, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people
Raj Swaroop
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The seasons of trouble
Life amid the ruins of Sri Lanka's civil war
- Rohini Mohan

( Caution : Long Read)

The story starts with a 28 year old man going to get a fitness certificate from a doctor as part of the employment process of a ship heading to Greece. He is abducted by captors who claim to be policemen. From there on we follow Sarva's hair raising gut wrenching story in basement dungeons, open prisons, hideouts, safehouses across Sri Lanka and then Saudi Ara
Kel Munger
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Didn’t know Sri Lanka was a mess as the result of a civil war that last nearly 30 years and only “ended” in 2009? You’re not alone.

In The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War, Al-Jazeera America journalist Rohini Mohan follows the lives of three people, all members of the Tamil community, who are trying to rebuild their lives following the defeat of the Tamil Tigers by government forces.

The survivors are shattered, but sturdy; they are also faced with a government tha
Peter Gehred
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. What is it like to be in a civil war? What is it like to survive a race riot? To what limits of cruelty and bravery, dedication and maternal love can a person go? The Seasons of Trouble is a remarkable read, with some events so troubling and striking that you will never forget them. Gives the lie to the glamor of war in its portrayal of a story that happened in recent years that was yet one more dull headline in our privileged daily lives.

Pulling back the curtain reveals th
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone w/ a sincere interest in humanity.
Recommended to PeaceAll by: NPR book recommenddation & also friends
When I heard about this book through NPR's 2014 book selection by Charles Mahtesian: “Gripping and profoundly moving ... Rohini Mohan has produced an astonishing feat of reportage.”

And also read a powerful REVIEW of it on LIVEMINT and knew why it was called a 'secret war'

Bottom Line: I'd certainly recommend this for anyone genuinely interested. A good supplemental read for students on Peace, Ethnic conflict, Human Rights, Journalism studies etc.

Since I had
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Seasons of trouble; the story of Mugil and Sarva have vicariously taken me to their life, feel and be empathetic to their troubled, trembled life during/post Sri-Lankan Civil War.

Never in the course of reading , I could feel even a bit of boredom or sluggishness .The writing grabbed me!!.The book succeeded in keeping me engrossed continuously till the last page. Worth the read! I appreciate and thank Rohini for this well researched work.
Sri Ramesh
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to be wary of Indian Tamils like Mohan producing sensationalist works, like Seasons of Trouble, about the Sri Lankan Civil War. Academic research has well-documented accounts of women largely feeling much safer under LTTE rule than they do currently. Mohan also claims her character of Sarva was not an LTTE cadre, though his level of involvement indicates that he was likely at some point recruited.
Rohan Traman
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a gripping book, tells the story of the 3 protagonists in a gentle and sombre manner along a narrative that flows seamlessly from the emotional to the thrilling. Highly recommend this book to anyone who's never picked up a book about the Sri Lanka civil war prior. A telling tale about the horrors of a life post war
Tariq Engineer
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
War is hell. If you didn't know it already, this book makes that clear. It is a detailed account of three lives (and by extension three families) and how they each of them affected in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War. It is stomach-churning reading at times.
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Rohini Mohan is an Indian journalist who writes on politics, environment and human rights in South Asia.

​In the last 10 years, she has reported for Al Jazeera, Tehelka magazine, The Caravan magazine, The New York Times, The Hindu, Outlook Traveller, and news channel CNN-IBN. She has lived in New Delhi, Chennai and New York, and is now based in Bangalore, India.

Rohini has a Masters in political j

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