The post-colonial experience is still fresh for the children of the sub-continent. We grew up hearing tales of British excesses, values, and vices. As Indians, we experienced, at least vicariously, the horrors of the Partition, a name used more often than not to refer to the blood-stained labor pains of our countries' naissance.
Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, had it no easier. Although they were not partitioned, recent events have proven that perhaps a partition might not have been too terrible, given the conflicts between the Tamils and the Sinhalese natives. For the unintiated, the Sinhalese are the native majority, who argue that the minority Tamils, migrants from Southern India, received preferential treatment during British rule. Post independence, Tamils claim that the Sinhala-majority government discriminated against them. These seeds of conflict blossomed into a raging feud between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist movement with early covert support from India, who saw them as a convenient tool to destabilise a neighbor and fellow aspirant in the global rat race. The Indians then switched to supporting the Sri Lankan government, in a bid to be seen as the regional power, and enable detente in the region.
One of the lasting legacies of the British, apart from the afore-mentioned political strife, was the English language. All parts of the sub-continent have produced peerless writers in English, from R K Narayan to Salman Rushdie in India, to Bapsi Sidhwa and Tariq Ali in Pakistan. Sri Lanka produced Michael Ondaatje and Shyam Selvadurai, among others. The term 'diaspora' has come to refer to the plethora of English writers from the Indian sub-continent, the Empire striking back, as it were (to borrow a Time magazine cover story title from a few years back).
Mary Anne Mohanraj, author of the new collection of stories "Bodies In Motion", therefore arrives with a variety of literary and historical baggage. She is a visiting professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and executive director of DesiLit, a South Asian literary organization. She has two previous literary collections and published stories on the alt.erotic.stories newsgroups, among other places. She founded a speculative fiction magazine, Strange Horizons, and the erotic webzine, Clean Sheets. Various other literary adventures followed, including a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Utah, whose dissertation was the novel-in-stories collection now published as "Bodies In Motion".