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Focus on Books

Sahitya - the special issue 2009

The publication of the annual volume of literature titled as 'Sahiyta - 2009' on the part of the Sinhala literary panel seems as the most significant event performed by the ministry of Cultural Affairs. The publication commenced as a learned journal since the mid fifties with the promotion of the Cultural ministry. This also appeared as a quarterly Sinhala journal dedicated to culture and literature.

This special issue which has come a long way from its formative period now covers not only articles on culture and literature, but also creative works like short stories and poems. The present issue is edited by a team of members of the Sinhala literary panel: Buddhadasa Galappatty (chairman), Samantha Herath, Praneeth Abhayasundara, Malini Govinnage, and Ven. Agalakada Sirisumana.

Running to a page count of 511 the magazine looks bulky both in form and content. The issue, though the price is not marked, is Rs. 1080, which is too exorbitant a price for a literary enthusiast of the day, and from a consumer point of view. A volume of this calibre ought to be reduced far more to half of the amount, enabling the literary lovers to buy and preserve it as an annual gift from the state. I am sure the ministry sources should reconsider this point.

It goes without saying that the ministerial authorities are not bent on cashing in a profit earning project via a literary pursuit of this type. In a telephone Culture minister told me that he was not quite happy about some of the events that transpired at Polonnaruwa, when the authorities held their first session of the literary events.

Minister Piyasiri Wijenayaka, though is a new comer to the present position, is by no means a stranger to the socio-cultural aspects of this country. As an ex JVPer, he was responsible for some of the working class literary activities such as Dahadiya Sittam. I am sure what he told was true about the present cultural activities spearheaded via a bureaucratic outlook meant only as a n annual event.

He was of the view that a radical change is anticipated. We feel that the minister will have the audacity to overcome the 'culture vulturism' that prevails under his purview.

May that be so, let us come back to the subject of the literary journal Sahitya .

The chief editor of the journal Buddhadasa Galappatty and his team have taken pains to collect articles that cover a wide gamut of subjects relating to the nucleus of culture an dliterary spirit. He has selected three research articles on the Polonnaruwa period of Sinhala literature from those who have conducted seemingly in-depth studies on art, culture and literature relevant to the period.

This acts as a preamble to the annual event about which the reader may not get a clear idea or a clue. Why was the first part of the literary ceremony held AT Polonnaruwa?

While the first part was held there at annual award ceremony was scheduled to be held in Colombo, which is now over.

Parakarama Kodituwakku has detoured from his normal pattern of poetic structure to the more conventional pattern, where he attempts to recreate the heroic nuances of the country, tracing the humans in a courageous struggle the live discarding the racial differences. There are two more poems, one by Piyasena Ratuwithana, and the other by Eric Illayapparachchi.

The short story by Kapila Kumara Kalinga centres round a male and a female caught in a cross cultural web of events focusing the experience of rediscovering of their identity. The creation looks more experimental and a study of the ethno-centrism. At least the time is rife for the culture pandits of the ministry to pay more attention to the pulse beat of the changing attitudes of their recipients. The transparency in their functions too is a key factor.

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