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Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri wins 2016 Gratiaen Prize, Aditha Dissanayake awarded H.A.I. Go

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01The Gratiaen Prize for the best work of creative writing in English was awarded to Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri for her unpublished novel ‘Stories’ on 27 May at BMICH, Colombo. This year’s winner emerged from a shortlist lineup which included poetry and prose. 

Commenting on the judging process, chairperson of the judging panel, Sasanka Perera, commented on the quality and diversity of the submissions and the challenges of judging across different genres of literature.

The H.A.I. Goonetileke Prize for Translation was awarded at the same event to Aditha Dissanayake for his translation of Batuwangala Rahula Thero’s Ran Karanduwa – translated as ‘Golden Casket’. K.N.O. Dharmadasa, chair of the judging panel said the translation was able to effectively capture the multi-layered quality of the original.

The Gratiaen Prize has an unbroken history of rewarding literary excellence in Sri Lanka for nearly two and a half decades and the main award is sponsored by Sarasavi Bookshop Ltd. 

Speaking at the event, Sarasavi Chairman H.D. Premasiri said that Sarasavi was honoured to be associated with prize as a socially conscious book publisher committed to uplifting the publishing industry in Sri Lanka. 

The current value of the prize is Rs. 200,000 and the H.A.I. Goonetileke Prize for Translation which offers the same prize money is awarded every other year. 

The prize was founded by Michael Ondaatje who was the joint winner of the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient in 1993. Guided by Ondaatje’s vision of promoting Sri Lankan writing in English through a prize devoted to resident Sri Lankan writers, the Gratiaen Prize has supported, encouraged and rewarded Sri Lankan literary creativity with a number of Gratiaen winners gaining regional and international critical acclaim and popular success.

The judging panel of the 2016 Gratiaen Prize included Prof. Sasanka Perera (Chair of the judging panel), cultural anthropologist, academic and bilingual cultural commentator; Chandana Dissanayake, academic and creative writer; and Ruhanie Perera, performer, performance maker and lecturer. The other shortlisted works were – Jean Arasanayagam: ‘Introspection’ published poems; Rizvina Morseth de Alwis: ‘The Memory of Loss’ novel – manuscript; Shehan Karunatilaka: ‘Short Eats’ collection of short stories – manuscript; Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri: ‘Stories’ novel – manuscript; Vivimarie Vander Poorten: ‘Borrowed Dust a collection of Poems’.  

The judging panel for the H.A.I. Goonetileke Prize for translation was Emeritus Prof. K.N.O. Dharmadasa, renowned academic and socio-cultural commentator (chair); Dr. Kumudu Kusum Kumara, sociologist, academic and socio-cultural critic; and Madhubashini Dissanayake –Ratnayake award-winning writer and university academic.03

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