Ashok Ferry Wins The Gratiaen Prize 2021!

Jun 23 2022. views 6

The winner of the Gratiaen Prize 2021 is Ashok Ferrey for his novel The Unmarriageable Man, published by Penguin, India. The winner was announced at a hybrid event with a limited in-person audience at the Barefoot Gallery in Colombo on 22nd June at 6.30 pm. The event was simultaneously live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Gratiaen Trust. 

The Gratiaen Prize shortlist for 2021 was announced on 23rd May of which the short-listed works were A Place called Home by Uvini Atukorala, an unpublished collection of short stories; The Unmarriageable Man by Ashok Ferrey, a published novel; The Lanka Box by Ciara Mandulee Mendis, an unpublished collection of short stories; and Talking to the Sky by Rizvina Morseth de Alwis, an unpublished novel in manuscript form.

This year the judging panel was chaired by award-winning Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Shyam Selvadurai whose work has been translated and published worldwide. The other members of the jury were Dr. Maduranga Kalugampitiya, Head of the Department of English at the University of Peradeniya whose research is on contemporary socio-political issues and humanities education, and Keshini Jayawardena, who is an avid reader, an experienced banker, and a consultant on leadership, diversity, and inclusion. The panel featured, as usual, three perspectives – that of the creative writer, academic and informed reader. 

The Gratiaen Prize is awarded by the Gratiaen Trust, founded by Michael Ondaatje in 1992. Its principal sponsor is the John Keells Foundation (JKF), the CSR entity of the John Keells Group. JKF’s partnership of the Trust falls within JKF’s focus area of Arts & Culture aimed at nurturing the livelihoods of artists towards safeguarding and promoting Sri Lankan arts and culture under its overall vision of "Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow". The Trust expresses its deep appreciation to John Keells Foundation for its continued support at a time when the arts often become the first victims of an economic downturn. At the same time, the Trust is very grateful to the many institutions and individuals who have made its work possible despite the challenging circumstances in the country. 

This is the first year since the pandemic that the Gratiaen Prize event was held in person. Due to the significant challenges facing Sri Lankans today, the Trust decided to scale back the event. Its hybrid format was also to reach readers of literature and supporters of the arts who could not attend the event in person.


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