The shortlist for the third Fairway National Literary Awards was announced recently at a gathering attended by academics, literary enthusiasts and media. An eminent panel of judges chose a total of 13 novels; four from the English category, five from Sinhala and four from Tamil.
The shortlisted novels under the English category are;
Dutugemunu: Prince of Destiny by Rukmani Samaranayake; a retelling of the Mahavamsa through taking a new look at one of Sri Lanka’s iconic historical figures with the insight and imagination of historical fiction.
Song of the Sun God by Shankari Chandran; a family history set against a backdrop of upheaval.
Wrath of Kali: The dark side of God by Mario Perera; an in-depth exploration of the psychotherapy of a nation and religion’s part in a struggle for liberation.
The Other One by Amanda Jay; an engaging and twisty Steampunk influenced science-fiction, standing out from the rest in genre and theme.
The Jury Statement drew attention to the invaluable importance of the role of an editor not being limited to mere proofreading typos and checking grammar, but to work with the writer in creating the story with greater finesse, clarity and structure. The chosen novels were commended for the fascinating and personal look at the world around, quality of writing, structure and substance and its success on its own terms.
The panel of judges for the category comprised of Ranjini Obeyesekere, academic, literary critic, and translator in the fields of Literature, and Theatre and Performance; M. Somasundaram, writer, playwright, film and literary critic, and Arun Welandawe – Prematilleke, actor, writer and director, and specialist in Immersive Theatre.
The Sinhala novels together portray sensitive characterization in a background of deeply analytical social and cultural inspection. The use of language to fit the relevant themes and the exploration of new territories in realistic rendition of language use, along with experiments in structure and creative expression, highlighted the five chosen novels;
Handa Paluwa Thani Tharuwa by Nissanka Wijemanna; a look at inter-racial relationships in a society deeply affected by religious and cultural differences.
Yakada Silpara by Wimal Udaya Hapugodaarachchi; a tale of traditional village life disrupted at the onset of the railway and set in the early 20th century.
Garunda Muhurthiya by Keerthi Welisarage; an exploration of realistic expression in portraying the changes taking place in the rural society as a result of colonialism.
Panduka Puthra Wasthuwa by Anurasiri Hettige; a sensitive and deep analysis of the urban lower class and the confrontations of a homosexual in such a society.
Nikini Kaluwara by Deepthi Mangala Rajapaksha; a tale spanning six decades, probing the political changes and its dark ramifications in Sri Lanka.
The jury for the category was made up of Gamini Viyangoda, writer, translator, social activist and political columnist; Buddhadasa Galappatty, poet, writer, award winning columnist and stage drama make-up artist, and Prabha Manuratne, academic and literary critique championing feminist theory, Marxism and psychoanalysis.
The judging of novels for the Tamil category was done by V. Maheswaran, academic and award winning writer; Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan, academic, award winning film-maker and writer, performer, playwright and poet advocating gender, dispossession, the displaced and the fraught question of nation in literature, performance and film studies, and MSM Anes, academic, writer and translator in the areas of philosophy, culture, music and folklore. The four selected novels are;
Thazhumbu by M Balasingham; the disruption of family and social cohesion by displacement during the war.
Kulaimurisal by J Wahabdeen; an exploration of dynamic class relationships prevalent in the tenant farmer system in the East.
Ethanam by Theniyaan; the tracing of particular moments in the class struggle focusing on the oppressed Dalits.
Neenthik Kadantha Nerupparu by N Yohendranathan; recounting the final phase of the war and its impact on the people of Vanni in the context of the defeat of the Tamil nationalist struggle.
The novels were endorsed for the important core concerns which they raised, the craft of the composition, the impact it makes on the reader and the place the novels will occupy in the corpus of Tamil literature.
Each shortlisted novel will receive a sum of Rupees One Hundred Thousand and the winning novels will receive Rupees Five Hundred Thousand at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival to be held in January 2018. Inaugurated in 2015 by Fairway Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd. to coincide with its title sponsorship of the Fairway Galle Literary Festival, the Fairway National Literary Awards is the highest prize money rewarding literary award for all three languages in Sri Lanka.