State Literary Awards Ceremony 2009:
Lauding the scribes
End of a devastation strengthens the creativity of any writer in any
region. Sri Lanka should be no exception, now that it basks in the
regained freedom from the decade-long war. States always sponsored and
motivated the country's arts scene, despite loopholes and shortcomings .
The first State Literary Award Ceremony in the liberated Lanka came
to pass at the regal environs of Presidential Secretariat with the
inspirational participation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday.
Cultural Affairs Minister Piyasiri Wijenaike, Culture and National
Heritage Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana and Justice and Legal Reforms
Deputy Minister V Putrasigamaniam, Cultural Department Director E. M.
Abhayaratne, National Literary Panel Chairman Buddhadasa Galappatty, Sri
Lanka Arts Council Chairman Pandula Andagama and the reputed literati
graced the event too.
Welcoming the distinguished gathering, Buddhadasa Galappatty noted
that the scribes represent the culture that transcends the gun.
"You are the poetic whistle of this civil society. You represent the
pulse of this country."
He thanked President Mahinda Rajapaksa for giving audience to
constructive criticism rather than empty eulogy.
In his keynote address, Prof. Tissa Kariyawasam stressed the
importance of literature in a post-war country.
"Our chronicles underwent a gross change since Mayor Alfred Duraiappa
was assassinated in 1975. Our country was more known as a country open
for foreign invasions."
He observed only one state leader could change this attitude
determinedly. The President has done his job, Professor Kariyawasam
said, now it's our part to motivate the public through literature.
Everyone of us has a role to perform, in that sense. Prof. Kariyawasam
drew examples from the nature of the post-war literature in the world
There had been several setbacks in the literature in the immediate
aftermath of World War I and II. Japan, which faced the worst
consequences of the war, had a specific literature - it came to be
called post war literature later on. Writers now have to move along with
communities instead of entertaining armchair travels in their comfy
This requirement is both cultural and national, he added. The
literature should easily reach both adults and young equally. Festivals
alone could not accomplish this task. Professor Kariyawasam quoted T. S.
Eliot who attempted to portray the post-war culture in his 'Wasteland'.
Short-listing the books has been no easy task - especially when the
initial count was about 950.
All these have been streamlined into categories such as novel, short
story collection, poetry collection, lyrics collection and translations.
Cultural Affairs Minister Piyasiri Wijenaike emphasized the need to
reawaken the heart of the nation.
"Our soldiers sacrificed their lives to leave us a better day. We no
longer need the gun, so we can now take up the pen to reach the masses.
It should decide the fate of our tomorrow."
Minister Wijenayaka observed writers pay a lesser focus on post-war
aspects of the country.
"I should not say you haven't touched this area. But you should focus
a greater deal on this now. It has a lot to offer."
Now it's time you sing your song with your pen, mused Minister
Wijenaike, and may this award inspire you to go ahead.
Culture and National Heritage Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana
commented on the complaints about the state-sponsored literary event.
"Complaints are seemingly reduced now. I am happy about that and at
the same time I should especially thank National Literary Panel Chairman
Buddhadasa Galappatty for doing his job quite impartially." The State
Literary Award Ceremony, held uninterrupted since 1957, has the
tradition of conferring the lifetime achievement title Sahityaratna on
distinguished virtuosos in English, Tamil and Sinhala literatures.
2009's Sahityaratna title was conferred upon Professor Ashley Halpe
(English), Dr. K Kunarasa (Tamil) and Prof. Tissa Kariyawasam (Sinhala)
by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
And the award goes to...
'Hoity the Fox' - Sybil Wettasinghe
'Three Star K and Other Plays'
- Senake Abeyratne
'Periodization in Sri Lankan History'
- R. A. L. H. Gunawardana
- Jean Arasanayagam
Translation (shared awards)
- Vijitha Fernando
'The Scattered Earth
- P. G. Punchihewa
Veethi Vareinda Padeil
- R. Udayanan
Short story collection
Aathmavisara - A. S. Paiva
Ennei Deeyil Erindaval
- Ashroff Sihabdeen
- Rev. Dr. S A I Mathew.
Poonaikku Mani Kattiyadi
- C. M. A. Ameer
Oru Kalaijanin Kadai
- Kaleijar Kaleichchelvan
- Madulugiriye Wijeratne
Translated children's literature
Sayntadu Amma Sayntadu
- Sarojini Arunachalam
- Sunethra Rajakarunananyaka
Short story collection
Acharisiya Dutu Didulana Andakaraya
- Piyal Kariyawasam
Poetry collection (shared awards)
Mariyava - Ajith Tilakasena
Mage Kolambata Handa Payai
- Eric Illayapparachchi
Visithuruya Re Ahasa
- Professor Sunil Ariyaratne
Nidhana Kele Abhirahasa
- Dr. Dinesh Samarawickrama
Raja Gona - Ariesen Ahubudu
Vismitha Sihina Dakinna
- H M Damitha Nipunajith
Miscellaneous (shared awards)
- K B Manewa
Budu Samaya ha Papa Sankalpaya
- Ven. Gemunupura Somawansa Thera
Oblomov - Ananda Amarasiri
Charandas saha Charandas Hora
- Parakrama Niriella.
Translated short story collection
Sonduru Situvam Chandana Mendis
Translated academic work (shared
- Mataka Satahan
- Premachandra Alwis
Lankave Negenahira Palatha
- Y W Gunawardena
- Kumudu Tharaka
Book with a good finish
- Chatura printing press
Publisher of the largest number of books
S Godage and Bros.
The legend of awards
Rs. 75,000 for the lifetime award and title Sahityaratna
Rs. 50,000 and the certificate for the original novel, short story
collection, drama, poetry collection, teenage literature, science
fiction and academic works.
Rs. 40,000 and the certificate for the translations.
Rs. 35,000 and the certificate for children's literature and lyrics
Rs. 20,000 and the certificate for the cover design.
The certificate for the book with the best finish.
The certificate for the publisher of the largest amount of books.
For their lifetime achievements...
Ashley Halpe is the emeritus professor of English at the
University of Peradeniya. A versatile academic and multifaceted artist
has contributed immensely in the spheres of education, literature and
fine arts for more than half a century. He has enriched Sri Lankan
academia and cultural environment by his research, translation, poetry
and paintings and plays with his labours as a chorister, actor director
of plays and an administrator. In addition, he has been a guide,
philosopher and friend to his students and colleagues.
K Gunarasa was graduated at universities of Peradeniya and
Jaffna. He has authored 45 novels, five short story collections and 50
dramas. His versatility reaches the climax, when he has translated both
Mahavansa and Chulavansa, celebrated chronicles of Sri Lankan history
Tissa Kariywasam served as both a university don and
administrator for 40 years. Apart from Sinhala, his subject field,
Professor Kariywasam has been researching on many fields such as
literature, journalism, mass communication, politics, films, drama,
dancing, editing, translations and creative works. He has authored 14
novels, 14 mass communication books, 12 books on dancing and 7 books on
drama criticism. He has held positions such as Director of Institute of
Aesthetic Studies, Chairman of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and
National Library Services and Documentation Board, and translated a
number of plays.