30th Gratiaen Prize Shortlist Revealed Alongside Young Writers Club Launch

May 23 2023.

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The 30th Gratiaen Prize shortlist was revealed during the launch of the Gratiaen Trust Young Writers Club on May 17, 2023. The Gratiaen Trust, in partnership with the John Keells Foundation for the fourth consecutive year, and with the support of the British Council as the event partner, announced the shortlisted writers for the prestigious Gratiaen Prize. Among the eight longlisted writers, four have been chosen for the next stage of the competition: Isurunie Anuradha Mallawaarachchi with “Flowers Teach Me To Let Go” (poetry), Chiranthi Rajapakse with “Keeping Time and Other Stories” (short stories), Shirani Rajapakse with “Samsara” (poetry), and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne with “The Wretched and the Damned” (novel).

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Gratiaen Prize, which has consistently recognized and promoted Sri Lankan writing in English. The jury for the prize is chaired by Romesh Gunesekera, an acclaimed writer and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, along with Sukanya Wignaraja, a psychotherapist and former editor, and Kaushalya Perera, a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Colombo. The composition of the panel represents the Gratiaen Prize’s tradition of incorporating three perspectives: a creative writer, an informed reader, and an academic.

The H.A.I.G. Goonetileke Prize for Translation, a biannual prize for translating from Sinhala or Tamil into English, will also be awarded. The judging panel for the translation prize includes Prabha Manuratne, a Senior Lecturer and critic, Dr. Ponni Arasu, an activist, historian, and translator, and Kaushalya Kumarasinghe, a Sinhala language novelist and translator. The winner of the H.A.I.G. Goonetileke Prize for Translation will be announced at the main Gratiaen Prize event on June 17, 2023, at Westminster House, Colombo, the official residence of the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.

Neloufer de Mel, Chairperson of the Gratiaen Trust, expressed the significance of these prizes in the Trust’s milestone year. She highlighted the 30-year effort to enhance and support English creative writing in Sri Lanka, as well as the growing prominence of Sri Lankan literature on the world literary map. The Trust has expanded its work with Masterclasses and workshops to continue supporting writers and thanked its sponsors, particularly the principal sponsor John Keells Foundation, for their contributions. The partnership with John Keells Foundation aligns with their focus on Arts and Culture, aiming to nurture artists, enhance skills, and promote Sri Lankan talent.

As part of its latest initiative, the Trust has introduced the Gratiaen Young Writers Club to provide a platform for emerging “next generation” writers. The club aims to create a community of young writers from diverse backgrounds who can support and inspire each other in their literary pursuits. It offers opportunities for collaboration, sharing of work, feedback, and exploration of various genres and styles of creative writing.
The British Council, Sri Lanka, which has been hosting the Gratiaen Prize shortlist event since its inception, celebrated its 30th year of collaboration with the Trust. The Trust has embarked on a programme in collaboration with the British Council to bring writers from the UK to conduct literary workshops, children’s literary events, masterclasses, and other initiatives throughout 2023 and early 2024. These events will be held in different parts of the country, providing access to literary activities and fostering discussions and practice of creative writing to strengthen

(Photos Courtesy of The Gratiaen Trust)



Rihaab Mowlana

Rihaab Mowlana is the Deputy Features Editor of Life Plus and a journalist with a passion for crafting captivating narratives. Her expertise lies in feature writing, where she brings a commitment to authenticity and a keen eye for unique perspectives. Follow Rihaab on Twitter & Instagram: @rihaabmowlana


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