Book

Excerpt from The Doctor’s Story:

“Pieces of shrapnel narrowly missed him as he operated in makeshift field hospitals. He’s convinced they were deliberately attacked, even though he repeatedly gave the Sri Lankan government details of their positions so they’d be spared. He calculates that his team of doctors, nurses and medics saved at least 20,000 people, but he is tormented by 150 patients he abandoned under a tree on the very last day of the war. He wants to forget the hands clawing at his sarong, the voices asking to be rescued, as he tore himself away and ran through a hail of bullets to surrender to the Sri Lankan Army’.

 

Excerpt from The Journalist’s Story:

“One day Lokeesan was in the hospital, counting the dead and injured, when he saw a mother, badly injured in the neck and chest but still conscious and screaming for her baby. An older lady–probably the grandmother – brought a child of about six months old, who was slightly injured. The mother took the baby, kissed it gently on the forehead, and offered her breast. She probably hadn’t eaten herself for days, but knew her child must feed if it was to have any chance of survival in a world where milk powder was more valuable than gold. After a while, with the baby still drinking from her breast, Lokeesan noticed the woman was dead. That feed was the mother’s parting gift to her child. She knew she was dying and that was why she’d been shouting so urgently for her baby”.

Reviews

“Anybody who has worked on Sri Lanka knows this story has had too little impact. With luck, this book can help change that”, The Guardian & Sunday Observer.

“Ultimately, it is hard to read this book and not agree with the need for a fuller reckoning. But the conflict raises other issues too, not least over the best way to end a civil war”. James Crabtree in The Financial Times.

“Harrison’s book contains a collection of grim facts that begin to establish an account of the events of early 2009 from a macro standpoint (referencing facts from reliable sources) complemented hauntingly by individual stories of human tragedy. It is the latter that makes it such a heart-breaking read, from the story of the teacher who suffered a “miscarriage on the beach at the climax of the war” to the young woman who alleges she was brutally raped by drunk police in cells.” Uncovering the Truth About Sri Lanka’s Civil War: a Painful But Urgent Task, Emanuel Stoakes, 12 Oct 2012

“Harrison’s devastating account of the sufferings of Sri Lanka’s civilian Tamil population during the war’s final chapter makes horrifying reading”. The Hindu, India, Dec 30 2012.

“Grasping an underreported and extremely complex subject, Harrison demonstrates journalism at its best by backing up her emotive portraits with hard facts and figures. As a new UN inquiry calls for further investigation into the atrocities committed by both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil rebel fighters, Harrison tells more than figures ever could by bringing to light the human cost of war.” Huffington Post, 3 Oct 2012

“Still Counting the Dead adds a new layer of detail to the conflict. We come to know the 10 survivors intimately and get a sense of what it was like for Tamil civilians living through the horror”. Book Review: The War the World Forgot, AlertNet, 1 Oct 2012

“Reading it made me go through everything again. I was able to feel the smells, colors and hear the heart wrenching cries of those abandoned people. And the dreams crept in. Even though the story was mine, your writing style made it into something even I can not digest.”  The Teacher (character in the book)

An extraordinary book. This dignified, just and unbearable account of the dark heart of Sri Lanka needs to be read by everyone who upholds human rights. As a Sri Lankan myself, knowing what I do about the war, I was very moved by Harrison’s beautiful clear prose, her straightforward retelling of the complex situation there, and her refusal to compromise the evidence. Every member of the UN Security Council should be sent a copy of this book.’ Roma Tearne, author of Mosquito

“Well-researched and with an eye for detail, Harrison’s book is essential reading for those wanting to know the human stories and faces behind the war. When we published eight survivors stories this may they were among the most read articles we ever published but Frances’ stories are different, in fact most of them have never been heard before. They may have been neglected by the international community and media but their powerful memories live on”. Sri Lanka Campaign.

Moving and enlightening. Frances Harrison has made sense of a vast, complicated calamity by examining it from the ground up… I recommend Still Counting The Dead – certainly to people interested in the specific, highly politicized, topic of the Sri Lankan war. But also to a general reader, interested simply in human experience of war witnessed from within. Reader on Google Books. 

About the Book

The tropical island of Sri Lanka is a paradise for tourists, but in 2009 it became a hell for its Tamil minority, as decades of civil war between the Tamil Tiger guerrillas and the government reached its bloody climax. Caught in the crossfire were hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, doctors, farmers, fishermen, nuns and other civilians. And the government ensured through a strict media blackout that the world was unaware of their suffering. Now, a UN enquiry has called for war-crimes investigations. Those crimes are recounted here to the wider world for the first time in sobering, shattering detail.

Available:

In the UK from Amazon   and Waterstones in print and ebook format.

In Canada “Still Counting the Dead” is published by House of Anansi and available online from Indigo and BNC Catalyst.

A Tamil translation will be published in India by Kalachuvadu Publications  in December 2012 and an English Rupee edition is already published by Penguin India.

A Sinhala translation will be published online.