Human rights lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham is the director of advocacy and legal director for the ACLU of Southern California. For his work protecting immigrants and minority communities from government oppression, he was recognized as a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient in 2016. His other awards include the 2010 Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award.
Below are Ahilan Arulanantham’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.
See the full list...
Learning Politics from Sivaram: The Life and Death of a Revolutionary Tamil Journalist in Sri Lanka
A compassionate book about a remarkable man (whom the author knew personally). Sivaram was a rigorous journalist, a sophisticated thinker on topics ranging from analytic philosophy to counterinsurgency theory, and a militant who fought for justice for the Tamil minority. Even if you know nothing about the Sri Lankan conflict, this book is worth reading just to understand how a person like Sivaram could have existed anywhere on Earth.
This is the history of immigration law that has most influenced how I think about my work. Through a compelling mix of descriptive history and social analysis, it traces the origins of the concept of the illegal immigrant in our law and culture. Our nation’s immigration discourse would improve if people were less judgmental in their approach to the topic, and this history helped to set me in that direction.
A set of related vignettes telling the story of a boy who grows up as a gay Sri Lankan Tamil as the civil war starts in that country. In an understated but powerful way, it lays bare the intersectional systems of oppression operating in the main character’s life. This novel comes as close as any I have read to capturing the experiences of the Sri Lankan refugees I have known, and also speaks to the experience of displacement more broadly.
$127.85 Please Kill Me
Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil
$144.73 Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America
$339.94 The Stories of John Cheever
$162.83 Autobiography of Red
Margherita Missoni Amos
$300.95 Brave New World
Jamie Lee Curtis
$141.82 Angle of Repose
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