24 September, 2018

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Lal Medawattegedera Is The Winner Of The 2012 Gratiaen Prize

The Gratiaen Prize for the best work of creative writing in English was awarded to Lal Medawattegedera for his unpublished novel Playing Pillow Politics at MGK on 04 May 2013 at Park Street Mews, Colombo. This year’s winner emerged from a tight contest from a strong shortlist lineup which included poetry, prose and drama. Commenting on the judging process, chairman of the judging panel, Jayantha Dhanapala, commended the quality of the submissions and reflected on the difficult task of judging between different genres such as poetry, drama and prose, all of which have differing aesthetic qualities. Dhanapala also commended the Trust for its committed service to the country’s literary culture and Standard Chartered Bank for its commitment to substantive Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

Celebrating its twentieth year, this year’s Gratiaen Prize has an unbroken history of rewarding literary excellence in Sri Lanka. Themed around “twenty years of Sri Lankan story telling” this year’s awards ceremony had a retrospective segment commemorating past winners. The current value of the prize is Rs 200,000 and the H A I Goonetileke Prize for Translations 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 Lanka writing continuously for two decades with a number of Gratiaen winners gaining regional and international critical acclaim and popular success.

Mr Anirvaran Ghosh Dastidar, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, commented, “The bank is very proud of its long affiliation with the award which is now celebrating its 20th year. The prize has successfully provided an impetus to encouraging creative writing in English in the country, and we look forward to seeing even greater enthusiasm as the years progress.”

The judging panel of the 2012 Gratiaen Prize included Jayantha Dhanapala, former career diplomat (chair), Sumathy Sivamohan, academic, writer, dramatist and filmmaker and senior journalist Lyn Ockersz. Speaking on behalf of the judging panel the chairman Jayantha Dhanapala said that the winning entry was an innovative and eclectic mix of realist and allegorical genres which critically reflected on contemporary Sri Lankan society with sustained irony. The other shortlisted works were It’s not in the Stars by Rizvina Morseth de Alwis, Kalumaali  by Ruwanthie de Chickera and Nadie Kammallaweera, Open Words are for Love-Letting by Malinda Seneviratne and The Professional by Saroj Sinnetamby.

Previous winners of the Gratiaen Prize include Carl Muller (The Jam Fruit Tree), the late Nihal de Silva (The Road from Elephant Pass), Punyakante Wijenaike (Amulet), the late Tissa Abeysekara (Bringing Tony Home), Vivimarie VanderPoorten (Nothing Prepares You), Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman) Prashani Rambukwella (Mythil’s Secret). Named after the first Chair of the Gratiaen Trust and Sri Lanka’s foremost librarian and bibliographer, the HAI Goonetileke Prize includes in its list of winners, Sunethra Rajakarunanayake’s Nandithya translated as The Chameleon by Vijitha Fernando, a collection of Liyanage Amarakeerthi’s short stories translated as The Hour When the Moon Weeps by Kumari Gunesekere, Eva Ranaweera’s Sedona translated by Edmund Jayasuriya and Simon Navagattegama’s Samsaraye Dadayakkaraya translated by Malinda Seneviratne.

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    Extremely happy for the winner who appeared to be a very proficient writer possessing a wide rapertoire of English writers and their work. I think for once the panel of judges got their act right in selecting the winner of the Grtataien. There was one fly in the ointment when Nafeesa, called out the final short listed author as Saroj Sinnetamby to come upstage and read his extract Lo and Behold who should come prancing up to the stage but that JOKER Ashok Ferry ! Now how did this happen? Could it be that THIS WAS DONE was with the connivance of the Grataien Trust, or were they too fooled into this situation? When it comes to using a “Pseudonym” or a “PEN name” when writing a book it could be acceptable, but when submitting a manuscript as an appliction for an award where the application form requires the applicants NIC NUMBER/NAME to be indicated how was it possible for SAROJ SINNETAMBY to indicate ASHOK FERRY’S NIC NO/NAME?. This boils down to giving wrong information on an application form which leads to disqualification. Therefore the certificate given to ASHOK FERRY at the award ceremony WHICH BEARS THE Name of SAROJ SINNETAMBY SHOULD BE TAKEN BACK AND THE SHORT LISTING AWARDED TO SAROJ SINNETAMBY DECLARED NULL AND VOID! What a joke this JOKER FERRY has turned out to be !!

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      “Ashok Ferry” is the author’s pen name, not the other way around :D

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        Ashok Ferrey is the pen name of Suresh Mudalnayake, so now he has two pen names. This comment above goes to show how well he consolidated his first pen name AF!! Now it will be SS? :) It was quite hilarious to watch actually. Congratulations to Lal M by the way!!

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    Congratulations to Mr. Medawattegedara for the award. Having read and seen a coupple of the short listed entries, I am now quite eagerly waiting to get my hands on “Playing Pillow Politics at MGK”

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    How many ‘names’ does Ashok Ferrey have? Does he have many different NICs and different passports too? Just asking!

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      Why would he need more than one ID card or passport?

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    Congratulations Lal. As an academic of the Open University I am really proud about you who is also a member of our Faculty for winning this prestigious prize!

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    DAVID,
    If Ashok Ferry was a pen name and Saroj Sinnetamby was his “de facto” name pray why and how did he masquerade in all his previous short listings ( I think he had two or three) as “ASHOK FERRY” ?.Also I think in all his public appearances, he had many, he never for once went as SINNETAMBY. Why ? What was the need.?

    Also how did he submit these earlier applications as “ASHOK FERRY” and give SAROJ SINNETAMBY’S NIC NO?
    Surely there is something amiss here, and the GRATIAEN TRUST must throw some light on this !

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      I think you fail to understand what a pen name is. It is a pseudonym under which one writes publications. An author could have more than one pen name if he wishes, particularly if he writes several genres of books. If he appeared publicly in his capacity as a writer, why wouldn’t he appear under his pen name, since that is the name he is known by?

      Where you have got this notion that his pen names have NIC numbers is beyond me. Why would he need that? For all non-literary or official needs he will use whatever ID documents belong to him. Are you under the impression that the Registration of Persons Department issues NICs to pseudonyms?

      This applies to “Essie”‘s comment below too. Does Essie have two NICs because he comments here under a pseudonym? Of course not. Why all this paranoid suspicion about one author who isn’t even the winner of the prize? Why not discuss the winning manuscript or something of actual interest instead of trying to cast aspersions on Ashok Ferry over something you guys clearly have misunderstood? There’s nothing sinister about a pen name :D

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    David Blacker.
    Why would Ashok Ferrey need more than one NIC or Passport? A legitimate question if he used only one pen name. But 2 or 3, maybe more? The issue is clearly not black or white; its a rather dirty shade of grey!

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    Dear Minoli, Rohana, The Watcher, Elmo

    A sincere thank you for your kind congratulatory messages.

    Lal M

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      Hey, Lal, congratulations, machang. You deserve it.

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    Lal is a wonderful person who has given freely of his skills by teaching others to write in English for years. There is no one more deserving of this prize than he. He is an elequent writer and a special person.

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    DEENA, THAT…. WE ALL GATHERED AT THE AWARD CEREMONY AND THE PARTY THAT FOLLOWED. I AM EAGERLY WAITING TO READ THE BOOK WHICH I AM SURE WILL BE A CLASSIC UNLIKE THE BOOK THAT CAME OUT BY THE GRATIAEN WINNER OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR ie 2011.

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    DAVID,
    YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY MISUNDERSTOOD THE QUERRY BEING RAISED. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST FERRY USING PEN NAMES OR FOR THAT MATTER ANYONE USING PEN NAMES. THAT IS THERE PREROGATIVE. THE QUESTION I RAISE IS THAT IF YOU ARE CONFIRMING THAT ASHOK FERRY IS A PEN NAME FOR SAROJ SINNETHAMBY, THEN IN HIS APPLICATION FORM THAT HE SUBMITTED FOR THE GRATIAEN AWARD AS ASHOK FERRY, ON THE OCCASIONS HE WAS SHORT LISTED,AS ASHOK FERRY, THE NIC NUMBER AND THE NAME(THERE ARE CAGES FOR THESE ON THE FORM) WAS THAT OF SAROJ SINNETHAMBY’S AND NOT OF A PERSON BY THE NAME OF ASHOK FERRY. THERE ARE NO NIC’S ISSUED FOR PEN NAMES. THIS IS A GROSS FRAUD, AND THE GRATIAEN TRUST MUST THROW SOME LIGHT ON THIS.

    THIS YEAR (IN MAY 2013) HE HAS OBVIOUSLY MADE HIS APPLICATION AS SAROJ SINNETHAMBY AND GIVEN HIS CORRECT NIC/ NAME ON THE GRATIAEN APPLICATION FORM, POSSIBLY KNOWING THAT HE WAS PUTTING THE TRUST AND HIMSELF INTO A VERY SERIOUS SITUATION WITH WHAT HE HAD DONE UPTO NOW.I BELIEVE IT WOULD IN THE INTEREST OF ALL IF THIS SHOULD BE MADE PUBLIC AND FERRY’S FRAUDULENT ACT AND THE GRATIAEN TRUST’S CONNIVANCE IS EXPOSED AND THE CERTIFICATES ISSUED TO FERRY ON THE EARLIER OCCASSIONS WITHDRAWN FORTHWITH.

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    Hi David, Deena, Elmo, The watcher, Minoli, Rohana,

    Thank you very much for your kindest thoughts and compliments. It is a simple gesture for you — but it means a lot to me.

    Lal M

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