Vihanga Perera is the winner of the 2014 Gratiaen Prize and the H A I Goonetileke Prize for Translation is awarded to Vijitha Fernando.
The Gratiaen Prize for the best work of creative writing in English was awarded to Vihanga Perera for his collection of poetry Love and Protest last night at Park Street Mews, 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, Sonali Deraniyagala, commented on the high quality of the shortlisted submissions and reflected on the unique aspects of each work that engaged the judges’ interest. Deraniyagala commended the winning entry for its deep engagement with themes of desire and love and for its powerful locally grounded political thematic content. She also spoke of how the Gratiaen prize has enabled creative writing in the country and how the prize can continue to play a vital role in fostering literary creativity.
The H A I Goonetileke Prize for Translation was awarded at the same event to Vijitha Fernando for her translation of Keerthi Welisarage’s Kala Sarpa – translated as Time Rebounds. Sunil Wijesiriwardena, chair of the judging panel said the translation was able to effectively captured the multi-layered quality of the original.
The Gratiaen Prize has an unbroken history of rewarding literary excellence in Sri Lanka for over two decades and is awarded in affiliation with the Standard Chartered Bank, 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 2014 Gratiaen Prize included Dr Sonali Deraniyagala, critically acclaimed author (chair), Dinali Fernando, academic and literary reviewer and dramatist Jehan Aloysius. The other shortlisted works were Rao’s Guide to Lime Pickling by Sandali Ash, Celibacy Factor by Quintus G. Fernando and Rails Run Parallel by Ayathurai Santhan.
The judging panel for the H A I G Goonetileke Prize for translation was Dr Sunil Wijesiriwardena, cultural critic and rights activist, Prof Kusuma Karunaratne, senior academic and Krishantha Fedricks, academic and cultural commentator.