Sinhala –“ Maha Rawana” by Tennyson Perera
The winners of the Fairway National Literary Awards 2016 were announced at a gala ceremony on the evening of the 13th of January 2017. The Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe and the crème of Sri Lanka’s academics and creative writers, publishers and literary enthusiasts, graced the glittering award ceremony, which took place at the Fairway Pavilion during the Fairway Galle Literary Festival. Fairway Holdings is the title sponsor of the Fairway Galle Literary Festival and the organizer of the Fairway National Literary Awards. The linking of local creative writing to a vibrant international literary festival offers the winners the added benefit of exposure to international critics and readers.
Mr. Wickramasinghe warmly commended Fairway Holdings for having taken the initiative to organize and fund the Fairway National Literary Awards and expressed his delight at the significant increase in the number of entries this year, while expressing the hope that the festival will continue to draw more and more local writers. “Our endeavor is to ensure that the literary talent in this country is brought out to the world. That is the target we have. We hope more of the private sector will be involved in sponsoring literary activities in this country”. The Prime Minister also announced that in celebration of the 70th Annual Independence Day next year, the state would extend its patronage to the Fairway Galle Literary Festival. “…This is how we carve out a niche in the world. So I would like to thank Hemaka de Alwis, the Chairman of Fairway Holdings once again and I wish all the authors the very best”, stated Mr. Wickramasinghe.
English- “First Utterance” by Theena Kumaragurunathan
Theena Kumaragurunathan’s novel, “First Utterance”, was the chosen winner in the English Language category and Tennyson Perera’s novel, “MahaRavana” secured first place in the Sinhala category. “PanjamPilaikkaVantha” by M. Sivalingam was the winner in the Tamil language category. In recognition of the effort and contribution of the publishers, who play a pivotal role in the creative process, the publishers of the winning titles were also acknowledged at the ceremony.
The Fairway National Literary Awards 2016, which recognize creative writing in all three of the national languages of Sri Lanka also coincided with the first ever National Reconciliation and Integration Week declared by His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Fairway National Literary Awards were established in 2015 and its genesis is grounded upon two notions. Firstly, while Sri Lanka has a highly literate culture with strong reading habits, creative writers nevertheless struggle with a lack of exposure and foundational support. Second was the fact that in our world of fast media turnover and internet click bait, good writing has very often failed to find the recognition it deserved.
The annual awards, which recognize exceptional creative writing in the Sinhala, Tamil and English languages in Sri Lanka, has received an overwhelming number of entries this year. The 50% increase in the number of entries across all categories suggests that the habit of reading and the creative impulse to write is stronger than ever among the Sri Lankan public.
This year’s panel of judges included the renowned film director Dharmasena Pathiraja, linguistic anthropologist Krishantha Fedricks, well-known short story writer Piyaseli Wijemanne, distinguished civil servant Tissa Devendra, acclaimed poet and academic Vivimarie Van Der Poorten, novelist Naomi Munaweera, Professor Emeritus Sitralega Maunagura, along with S. Pathmanathan, the former Principal of Pallaly Training school (better known as the poet and translator of ‘Sopa’) and Mohamed Abdulla, Professor of Tamil Language at the South Eastern University.
Tamil – “ Pancham Pilaika Vantha Seemi” by M. Sivalingam
Each of the winners received a cash award of Five Hundred Thousand Rupees, while the authors shortlisted for the awards in September last year received One Hundred Thousand Rupees each.
Group CEO, Fairway Holdings Imal Fonseka