The Gratiaen Trust Announces the Longlist for the 31st Gratiaen Prize

Apr 09 2024.

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The Gratiaen Trust, in association with the John Keells Foundation and the British Council, is proud to announce the Longlist for the 31st annual Gratiaen Prize, kicking off this year’s celebration of excellence in English creative writing in Sri Lanka. The Gratiaen Prize is perhaps the most coveted award for Sri Lankan authors writing in English.

The panel of distinguished judges for the 2023 Gratiaen Prize includes Dr Anthony Joseph, an award-winning poet, author and musician from the UK who chairs the jury, Dr Ruvani Ranasinha, a Professor of Literature at Kings College London, and Angeline Ondaatjie, a keen supporter of the arts who joins the jury as an informed reader. After months of deliberation, the judges have selected eight exceptional, previously unpublished works of literature for the longlist.

The announcement of the longlist marks the first milestone leading up to the shortlist announcement on April 29, 2024, and the grand award event of the Gratiaen Prize on June 1, 2024. The longlisted authors for the 31st Gratiaen Prize include A Passing Return by Pasan Jayasinghe, Crossing the Line by Jehan Aloysius, Father Cabraal’s Recipe for Love Cake by Ramya Jirasinghe, Footnotes of a Protest by E M Tennakoon, Gnanam by Selvi Sachithanandam, Students and Rebels by Vihanga Perera, and Thomia by Richard Simon and When Ghosts Die by Lal Medawattegedara.

In a joint statement, Gratiaen co-chairs Nafeesa Amiruddeen and Nisreen Jafferjee said, “The Gratiaen Trust would like to congratulate the authors who have been selected for the long list. This year we are pleased to note the wide range of genres and themes that were represented in the entries. We are also delighted to bring together a panel of judges that combine international experience with Sri Lankan insights. Each of our judges brings to the table unique perspectives and experience thereby raising the bar for creative excellence. This reflects the coming of age for English creative writing in Sri Lanka.”

This year’s jury panel is notably distinguished, featuring Dr. Anthony Joseph F.R.S.L., serving as the Chair. He is a celebrated Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic, and musician. His 2022 collection Sonnets for Albert won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry 2022 and the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Poetry. A King’s College London lecturer, Dr Joseph’s illustrious career spans multiple poetry collections, novels, and albums, earning him critical acclaim and prestigious awards.

Dr. Ruvani Ranasinha, a prominent figure in global literature, is a Professor at King’s College London. Her expertise in postcolonial literature and theory, especially South Asian diaspora literature, brings a deep and nuanced understanding of cultural narratives to the jury. Dr Ranasinha received her PhD from the University of Oxford and is the author of South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford University Press, 2007), Contemporary Diasporic South Asian Women’s Fiction: Gender, Narration and Globalisation (Palgrave 2016) and the lead editor of South Asians Shaping the Nation, 1870-1950: A Sourcebook (Manchester University Press, 2012).

Angeline Ondaatjie, who has a rich background in business and academia, possesses an expansive three-decade career in tourism and finance. Her passion for literature and diverse experience provides a unique perspective to the panel. During her undergraduate years, Angeline pursued her passion for literature and the arts by studying Comparative World Literature at both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Committed to academia and educational initiatives, Angeline serves on the Education Council of MIT and is a Country Advisor to Princeton Asia.

The Gratiaen Prize was first awarded in 1993 by the celebrated Sri Lankan-Canadian author Michael Ondaatje, to Ruvani Ranasinha Anthony Joseph Angeline Ondaatje to nurture and promote creative writing in English by authors residing in Sri Lanka. Funded through the winnings of his Booker Prize for the novel “The English Patient,” the Trust has, as its flagship endeavours, the annual Gratiaen Prize, and the HAIG Prize for translations awarded every two years, as well as workshops, masterclasses, and outreach programs.

The Gratiaen Trust continues thereby to support an increasingly vibrant literary culture in Sri Lanka. John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of the John Keells Group - has been the primary sponsor of the Gratiaen Trust since October 2019 and has provided unstinting support to the Trust’s various projects, thereby helping it expand its mandate. British Council, Sri Lanka – which has been a long-term partner of the Gratiaen Trust for over 30 years has sponsored the participation of Dr Anthony Joseph in this 31st Gratiaen Prize and a masterclass to be conducted by him. In addition to the British Council, the Trust thanks the Wijeya Newspapers and the Marga Institute for their invaluable support.


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