The Gratiaen Prize for the best work of creative writing in English was awarded to Lal Medawattegedera for his unpublished novel Playing Pillow Politics at MGK on 04 May 2013 at Park Street Mews, Colombo.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.
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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