acknowledges Lankan Thamil Fiction
It is indeed an irony that a Lankan Thamilian has to write about his
own community recipients of Awards even when they are given by a Sinhala
business entrepreneur. I am referring to last Thursday's function at the
Mahaweli Centre in connection with the 11th Godage National Literary
It would have been proper and befitting if some Sinhala journalists
who could write in English cover the event and even interview the three
Lankans who write in Thamil to show that we are all Lankans irrespective
of language or racial differences.
I have noticed while some Lankan Thamliians write about Sinhala and
English literary scenes in English, never have the English journalists
who mostly belong to the Sinhala community interviewed Lankan Thamil
writers and artistes. Why this is one sided baffles me. Maybe there are
some deep seated reasons for this. Hope things will change soon.
Some of the big sponsors in the mercantile sector that includes some
Lankan Thamilians as well will come forward to foster Sinhala theatre,
music, literary awards etc.
Never have they sponsored Lankan Thamil cultural activities. One
exception might have been Bharatha Natyam and Song recitals in which
some exponents have had an influence in winning over the sponsors to
make them feel that such events are not exclusively Thamilian, but also
executed with Sinhala artistes.
It is this context one welcomes wholeheartedly the realization of
Godage Book Emporium to give some recognition to three writers in Thamil.
Godage Bros have earlier published a book in English by a Lankan
Thamilian short story writer who writes in Thamil and English. His name
is Ayathurai Santhan (pronounced Saanthan).The English Panel of the Arts
Council awarded him a Sahithya Award.
That was gratifying. Apart from DCRA Goonathilaka who perhaps due to
the unavoidability to write something about Saanthan, no others
belonging to the Sinhala community noticed him. That is to say what they
felt about him and his writing in print.
Rajiva Wijesinha of course had something to say when he edited an
anthology of Lankan short story writers. But it was two belonging to the
Burgher community wrote about his book in a little more detail. They
were Carl Muller and Lynn Ockersz.
This columnist has been writing about and introducing the Lankan (not
necessarily Thamilian scene alone) cultural scene for s many decades in
English, but never has an English journalist had the courtesy to ask him
for an interview. On the contrary, Lakbima and Silumina weekly Sinhala
papers had the courtesy to inform the cultural scene in Thamil to its
Sinhala readers in the form of an interview with this columnist some
time back. The now defunct Mawatha also had a few translations of his
writing translated into Sinhala. Prof Tissa Kariyawasam in his long
article in a book in Sinhala English title -Highlights of a Century:
Literary Achievements of 20th Century Sri Lanka) had the courtesy to
include this columnist's name in the title. Incidentally this book was
published by S. Godagae Brothers.
So, it is the Lankan journalists writing in English seem to be the
only lot who pretend to say that they know nothing about Thamil and
Thamilians in the corpus of Lankan literature.
Gunasena Vithana, Prof A V Suraweera, Leel Gunasekera, K.Jayatilake
and others from time to time tried to organize some kind of
understanding between the writers of the two communities, but the
attempts did not materialize.
The State Literary Awards had hitherto been basically bureaucratic in
outlook. Most of the officials did not know 'who was who' and the
deserving were left behind and the seekers found their places
It is n this context that Mr. S.Godage' realization of acknowledging
the presence of a Lankan Thamil Literate should be appreciated.
He is concentrating on awards for fiction only. Poetry, Criticism and
Drama are not considered. Nevertheless we should congratulate him and
his team for this noble venture of recognizing Lankan Thamil Fiction for
On September 10, 2009 the writers in Thamil are not fiction winners,
but contributors to Lankan Thamil Literature including fiction writing.
They were Dominc Jeeva (I have written about him several times in this
column), A. Iqbal and Kokila Mahendran. They are three of the senior and
important writers in Thamil in this country.
Dominc Jeeva many times winner of several awards writes short
stories, edits Mallikai and publishes books with writers financing him
for the publication. He hails from Yaalpaanam and belongs to a
downtrodden community in the North. Self educated he is a Marxist, but
accommodates writers from other shades of ideologies.
A. Iqbal originally hailing from the south East is a Moor with
Marxist shades writes poetry, short stories essays and criticism. He is
married in Beruwela.
Kokila Mahendran also comes from the North knows English. She writes
fiction, essays and criticism. She has also won several literary awards.
She studied medicine but switched on to teaching and now retired from
the Education Service holding high position. Her forte is writing on
psychological themes. She also functions as councilor
They deserve this recognition especially by a Sinhala literary
The highlight of the event was the critical observations of the early
Sinhala novels by Prof. K N O Dharmadasa and the fêting of the Life Long
achievement award to Dr K Jayatilake.
Godage National Literary Awards for the best in 208 were given under
the following category: Novel Short Story, Poetry, and Literary Works by
Congratulations all round.