Focus on pioneers of the Sinhala novel
Sinhala Nawakathave Adithamayo
Author: Thompson A. Van de Bona
Sarasavi Publishers, Nugegoda
176 pp Price Rs. 225
Review: R. S. Karunaratne
FICTION: Thompson A. Van de Bona of Parisiye Kathawak fame is
perhaps one of those unsung, unrecognized authors among the Sinhala
Although he has written a number of novels including Muhudin Etharata,
Viya Sidurin Sasara Ditimi, Semada Samarami Sudu, Thada Ima and Ashavo,
his work has not been properly assessed by critics. However some of his
recent books in the form of translations including Deriyakage Dinapotha
and Umathu Mahallakuge Dina Satahan (the diary of a mad old man) were
The present work - Sinhala Navakathave Adithamayo - is a research
into the contributions of four pioneers of the Sinhala novel. Although
the Sinhala novel was not a popular genre in its embryonic stage,
Bentota Albert Silva, L. Isaac de Silva, Piyadasa Sirisena and
Alutgamage Simon de Silva have made a concerted attempt to popularise
the novel as a form of literature.
Van de Bona contends that many critics have attempted to comment on
the Sinhala novel even without reading some of the works by Bentota
Albert Silva. It is strange but true that some of novels - Wimala, Adara
Hasuna and Siribari are not readily available to the Sinhala reader. Due
to the author's attempts, these three short novels have been included in
the book under review.
L. Isaac de Silva's Vasanavantha Pavula - Kalakanni Pavula was first
serialised in his Ruwan Maldama. The novel was meant to popularise
religion. Van de Bona has given the summary of the novel. He also traces
the similarities between Isaac de Silva's novels and John Bunyan's The
Pilgrim's Progress, The Life and Death of Mr Badman and the Holy War.
Author: Thompson A. Van de Bona
Bentota Albert Silva seems to have a greater influence on the Sinhala
novel. He was the first author to introduce his stories as "Albert's
Being well-versed in English and Latin he had access to classics and
semi-classics. He translated the Arabian Nights into Sinhala way back in
1892 and later wrote his short novel 'Wimala'.
Piyadasa Sirisena (1875-1946) made it a point to popularise Buddhist
principles in his novels. He condemned the Western culture in most of
his novels including Vasanavantha Vivahaya.
Van de Bona is of the view that Piyadasa Sirisena's novels were
serialised before Simon de Silva's "Meena" supposed to be the first
Sinhala novel. "Meena was a big hit at the time going by the reviews
Towards the end of the book Van de Bona makes a case for Albert
Silva's Wimala as the first Sinhala novel. However this may not be
acceptable to those critics who believe that Meena was the first Sinhala
Taken as a whole, Thompson A Van de Bona has made a bold attempt to
trace the origins of the Sinhala novel. The inclusion of the four novels
has enhanced the value of this book. Meanwhile, Sarasavi Publishers has
done a good job in presenting the book in a pleasant format.
Readable autobiographical novel
Author: G.A. Mathupema
Publisher: Piyasara Publishers, Kalutara
Review: Sarasi Wettimuny
FICTION: Autobiographical novel is a genre that is not quite
common in Sinhala literature. Of course, there are autobiographies in
Sinhala, some of them are really very fine. But in the continent,
autobiographical novels are very common and one is reminded of writers
such as Truman Kapote and Norman Mailer, who have successfully
transformed their life stories into novels.
The recently released autobiographical novel "Guruwarayakuge
Vruthanthaya" by G.A. Mathupema is a fine example for an
autobiographical novel which has woven the true facts of his life
artistically into a prose poem.
Being a veteran writer and a good teacher Mathupema has entered the
field of journalism half a century back and he has to his credit a
number of novels, short stories and books on literary criticism and
The background of this novel is the society in transition since the
late nineteen thirties. The school life in Sri Lanka during colonial
days before independence has been well depicted in this novel.
Socio-political revival in 1956, insurgent movement in 1971, racial
riots in 1983, the black July, macabre killings and human torture in
1988 have formed the milieu of this novel.
A teacher's reaction to the social changes that have taken place in
eight preceding decades have been transmuted into a novel. Towards the
end of the novel, its tempo quickens, disturbing even the tenor of the
The writer's vivid descriptions about his childhood, youth and career
experiences as a teacher are highly sensitive. The rural setting of his
childhood was well enjoyed by the writer, his close connections with his
family members specially grandfather (Atha) and grandmother and his
attitudes towards nature, how he admires nature are clearly depicted
through various incidents.
One who reads the novel will surely be impressed with the nostalgic
feelings of the writer in looking back towards his past life.
During Mathupema's school days he had taken the leadership in forming
a small library called 'Rasika Gula'. Through his attractive language
style, the writer has successfully presented how they managed to buy
books for their small library in various ways. The innocent mischievous
activities as a school boy are quite nicely portrayed in this novel.
The incident where the writer used his school fees given by the
father for buying "Sinhala Sahithyaye Nagima" is an interesting episode,
the writer has recollected the incident which caused him troubles in
finding money to pay back his school fees.
There are also a few other instances where the writer's love of books
is indicated. He has spent his money for buying newspaper 'Nidahasa'
published by poet Somaweera Chandrasiri and other magazines such as
Heladiwa, Lanka, Kasaya, Nuwana edited by Manawasinghe. Indeed, we
realize that the writer is a great lover of books and lives in the world
There are certain references to some books such as 'Crime ad
Punishment' of Dostoevsky, Maxim Gorky's 'My Universities', Sumerset
Maugham's 'Summing Up' in relation to the writer's feelings. Here we see
how Mathupema has gone to the depths of these books. It should be noted
how he was deeply shocked after reading 'Crime and Punishment'.
He had sort of marooned between his beliefs and the actual happenings
in the world. The readers of this autobiographical novel will understand
how one can awaken one's critical thinking in reading books.
"Guruwarayakuge Vruthanthaya" has covered all stages of one's life.
Mathupema's experiences in childhood, youth, career of teaching and his
married life, children and his overall general view point towards life
is quite impressively presented in this autobiographical novel.
Characteristic feature of this novel is the sympathetic tone running
through the entire work. The writer never speaks ill of those people who
have been unkind to him in certain occasions of his career. What is most
impressive about this novel is the vein of pathos of the life of the
protagonist running throughout the entire work 'The still sad music of
Compulsory reading for those seeking adventure
Author: Dan Brown
Review: Jagath Savanadasa
FICTION: Deception Point yet another thrilling novel by Dan
Brown did not cause the controversy and the protests that the Da Vinci
Code his other novel led to in quite a few parts of the world.
Deception Point is a different genre of a novel to the Da Vinci Code.
In the latter Brown led his vast and global readership on an exciting
yet controversial journey, in the course of which he made daring
incursions and revelations in regard to little known aspects of
He also delved into, several Institutions, rituals, customs, and
practices connected to the religion. For example, the Opus Dei whose
long existence seems not widely known.
Unfortunately in the creation of a complex novel Brown crossed
accepted boundaries of literary endeavour. His fictional twists and
imaginative diversions although part of the privileged repertoire of a
novelist did not go down well with some readers. It indeed hurt their
And this is where Brown is believed to have erred to an extreme
degree. Religion is a subject close to the hearts of people. Any
questionable versions of age old religious practices and beliefs could
evoke the wrath of people.
Salman Rushdhie hurt the sensitivities of the followers of Islam and
had to go into hiding for several years to protect himself from the
FATWA (death sentence) imposed by the former Iranian President.
Similarly senior readers will recall following Bhavatharanaya, Martin
Wickramasighe was subjected to extreme criticism because he had
commented on the Life of the Buddha.
Quite apart from all this Deception Point confirms Brown's creativity
and versatility and his research skills. In this novel Brown's
insightful scientific knowledge especially his knowledge of the
undiscovered depths of the ocean fascinates the reader even without the
exciting plot that he has created.
To use these as a platform to launch a riveting tale is what elevates
Brown to the incomparable league of a selected few like Michael Crichton
in today's world of fiction.
In contemporary times these two novelists stand apart from their
peers purely on their ability to present diverse backdrops and themes.
Thus Brown's Da Vinci Code is different to Deception Point as chalk is
to cheese. Similarly Crichton's Congo to his Digital Man.
At the centre of the Deception Point is the discovery of a
300-year-old meteorite buried in the remote Arctic.
The United States more specifically the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration who are eternally on surveillance worldwide makes
this astonishing discovery which would have great implications all over.
From this point onward the story revolves on intrigue and in
perpetuation of an incredible hoax - its deception at the highest levels
of the US administration.
In the meantime the President of the US is facing a crisis. His
popularity is on a steep downward trend. The critics often cite NASA in
attacking his image.
The principal adversary in this story is contesting the upcoming
Presidential Election and he makes relentless attacks on the incumbent
using NASA's spending as a principal weapon. The vast expenditure that
NASA incurs in the pursuit of other planets and galaxies seem to have
aroused the conscience of the electorate.
The President's opponent points out that such extravagant spending
could instead be used more wisely and on more worthy causes.
Deception Point is compulsory reading for those who seek adventure
Stay healthy without drugs
Miracles Through Pranic Healing
Author: Master Choa Kok Sui
Review: Aditha Dissanayake
HEALTH: Whenever you suffer from a headache, backache, a sore
throat or toothache, have you wished you knew what to do to cure
yourself instead of rushing to the doctor or gulping down a handful of
drugs? Here is an end to such wistful thinking. Readers of Miracles
Through Pranic Healing can now heal themselves and others simply by
following the step by step instructions given by Master Choa Kok Sui,
which can be easily understood, acquired and practised with no drugs and
often "no touching".
"In an era when, in spite of their stunning achievements in medical
science, when even the West has begun to seek traditional ailing
practices of the East (Ayurvedha, Yoga, Acupuncture, etc) Pranic
Healing, based on the ancient science and art of non-touch and no-drug
healing is now being practised all over the world including the USA,
Canada, South America, etc", says Deva Somasundaram of the Pranic
Healing Foundation, Sri Lanka.
Explaining the meaning of Prana, Somasundaram says, "The word Pranic
is derived from the Sanskrit word "Prana" which means "Life Force or
Life Energy". It is this life force that keeps the body alive and
Prana is limitless and universal and can be quite easily transferred
to a patient to bring about healing whenever required."
Where do you find this prana? From the sun, the air around you and
the earth. Solar prana can be obtained by staying in the sunlight for
ten minutes or by drinking water that has been exposed to sunlight.
Air prana can be absorbed by deep, rhythmic breathing while in order
to absorb ground prana you should walk barefooted in order to allow the
soles of the feet to absorb this energy from the earth. Certain trees
are also said to exude excess prana which could be absorbed by tired or
sick people when they lie down or rest beneath these trees.
Though this kind of healing happens automatically the rest has to be
learnt. Master Choa Kok Sui introduces a simplified and mechanistic
approach to Pranic Healing but says that at the same time the healing is
"It is mechanistic in the sense that all that one has to do is to
follow instructions step-by-step and the predetermined results will
follow. It is spiritual in the sense that by praying or by invoking, one
becomes a divine healing channel". Writes Master Sui.
The book claims to teach within a week or two, how to heal simple
ailments; and within a month or two how to heal difficult cases. "One
does not have to spend ten to twenty years just to learn how to perform
paranormal healing. Assures the author."
Neither does one need to have any "special inborn healing power" nor
be a clairvoyant to heal. All that one needs is the willingness to heal
and to follow the instructions given in this book".
In other words, if you have an average intelligence, an average
ability to concentrate, an open but discriminating mind and a certain
degree of persistence you will soon be curing your own ailments and of
those around you, or of those who are even hundreds or thousands of
"Learning Pranic Healing is easier than learning to play the piano or
painting. It is as easy as learning to drive.", says Master Sui,but, he
adds as everything else in the world one requires practice to achieve a
certain degree of proficiency.
So, here's bidding goodbye to doctors and medicine. Here's to good
health through Pranic Healing.
The book is published by World Pranic Healing Foundation 21/10, A.
Ram Villa, Craig Park Layout, M.G. Road, Bangalore - 560001 E-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org wphf-india@ hotmail.com
Origin and contribution of Javanese in Sri Lanka
Saga of the exiled Royal Javanese unearthed
Author: Tuan Arifeen Burah
Vijitha Yapa Bookshop, Colombo
151 pp. Price Rs. 250
Review: T. Aniff Ahamed
MALAYS: The Malays in Sri Lanka are the descendants of the
kings, queens, princes and princesses, noblemen, dignitaries, artists,
craftsmen, Commanders and their retinue, who were part and parcel of the
sovereign, exiled by the Dutch.
A hereto unknown factor, perhaps buried in the sands of time, has
been unravelled by the author T. Arifeen Burah a senior professional in
land surveying and land economics. He has delved into old records at the
Archives and other sources to gather the relevant information. The book
covers a period of 156 years.
This book has been made possible after a great deal of painstaking
research Dutch Professor Vanden Belt of the Lieder University of Holland
played a major role in having given his valuable time and expertise to
the translation in to English from the Romanised Dutch records.
The Assistant Archivist Mrs. Dias has also helped the author. This
aspect of it had been the missing link that has prevented the narration
of this epic story by other historians.
The saga unfolds when the exiled Javanese Prince Amankoeratte of
Batavia and the royal retinue arrived in Sri Lanka.
Developing and expanding the base of spices and commodity trade
between Sri Lanka and Batavia has been his direct responsibility.
Entrustment of these duties to him by the Dutch rulers highlights the
capacity and the respect given to the royal party.
The book gives information of the forefathers of the author and their
contribution to many aspects of commerce and life in the wider community
in Sri Lanka. Much emphasis has been laid on the Prince Amankoeratte.
In trying to establish the genealogy of the Javanese (now termed
Malays) in Sri Lanka to their ancestors he has not only obtained
information from archival records but has also visited many Malays in
obtaining valuable data which had been passed down to them by their
With the invasion of the British to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) communication
between the Dutch in Java and the exiles comes to an abrupt end when the
change of names took place to conceal their royal identity when taking
the "Oath of Allegiance" to serve under the British when Ceylon ceded to
the British. Most of the Javanese names therefore were Anglicised for
easy pronunciation by them.
With great delight I recommend this book to all Sri Lankans who
should know the origin and the contribution made by the Javanese (now
classified as Malays). The author avers that with globalisation an
individual will be identified by a numeral and a name is no longer
relevant. I hope that his research will be used in preserving one's