The Gratiaen Trust, in association with John Keells Foundation, is organizing a series of events that will connect its award winning writers and their books with readers and those who love literature. The first in the series is a literary weekend which is being held in partnership with the Bentota Beach Hotel. The second event is in celebration of Children’s day, and is targeted at young readers. It will be a fun day of readings and story-telling which will be held at The Sarasavi bookstore at the Galle Face One.
The Literary Weekend and the Children’s Day literary event were conceptualized as avenues to showcase Sri Lankan creative writing in English to readers. The Gratiaen Trust hopes that the Literary weekend, and the Children’s Day event will act as bridge between the two groups. As Neloufer De Mel, Chairperson of the Trust said, “The Trust is always keen to bring Sri Lankan literature in English to readers. But we also hope that the interaction between writers and their audiences will inspire more Sri Lankan creative writing. We are particularly excited about our Children’s Day event. Each year the Gratiaen Prize attracts a significant number children’s book and manuscripts as entries. Sybil Wettasinghe, who won the Prize in 1995, is a legend in this genre, and others such a Prashani Rambukwella have written books that have captured the imagination of many young readers and sold multiple copies. This year we were very proud to have among our short-listed writers, 16-year-old Praveen Jayamanna. We hope that both Sri
Lankan literature in English for children and a younger readership will grow, resulting in wonderful children’s books that are widely read.”
Both the literary weekend and the Children’s Day event are being held according to the social distancing norms currently in place. As a result, the number of participants at both events are restricted to a small number of literature enthusiasts and young readers who have pre-registered. However, edited videos of the writers’ sessions and panels from the Bentota event will be uploaded on the Gratiaen Trust Facebook page so that many others can also watch and listen to what the writers have to say.
The literary weekend, curated by the Gratiaen Trust, features poetry readings at Lunuganga of Gratiaen Prize winning poets/ At the Bentota Beach Resort we will have solo sessions with current Gratiaen Prize winner Andrew Fidel Fernando, a panel discussion on literature, sport and being Sri Lankan with former Prize winners as well as Kumar Sangakkara, readings from Arun Welendawe Premetilleke’s plays and a conversation with Vivimarie Vanderpoorten and Prashani Rambukwella on writing as women.
The Children’s Day event will be held on October 1 st 2020, in association with John Keels Foundation, and is supported by TNL Radio and Sarasav. Separate morning and afternoon sessions are being held to accommodate more children. The sessions will include dramatised readings as well as a workshop on the craft of story-telling. Both sessions are targeted at age groups 6-12 years.
The Gratiaen Trust was founded in 1992 by Michael Ondaatje, the internationally renowned novelist, poet and essayist of Sri Lankan origin. Funded with his Booker prize money for his novel The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje’s vision was to establish a Trust that would recognize and promote creative writing in English by Sri Lankan authors resident in the country. Towards this the Gratiaen Prize, awarded annually, was established in 1993. The Prize has been awarded continuously since then.
In 2003, the Trust decided to award a Prize for Translations named the H.A.I. Goonetileke Prize for translation.
Supporting writers through their creative writing, helping to develop their craft, and fostering public engagement with their work remain important objectives for the Trust. Therefore, the Trust curates and organizes regular workshops for writers and editors, masterclasses, outreach programs and panel events on literature, creative writing and publishing.