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A simple experiment to highlight ingrained racism in Sri Lanka

When Etisalat dreams of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected, it’s clearly thinking only of the Sinhalese. Why else would the company’s website feature, so prominently, a Lion to depict ‘everyone’ in Sri Lanka? In popular media, corporate marketing and government output, there are numerous other examples of a racism so deeply internalised and […]

In conversation with Nayomi Munaweera

The Los Angeles Review calls Nayomi Munaweera‘s first novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, “gripping, astonishing and utterly gorgeous”. At the head of their lane, a buss on its knees, front tires exploded, haemorrhages thrusting, pushing passengers. At the far side, a particularly jovial mob gather. Reaching high above their heads the men pull a […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: Y is for y’all

Image from Neato Shop Many languages have singular and plural forms of the second person pronoun you, including Sinhala and Tamil. English doesn’t, except in certain dialects: yous or youse is heard mainly in Scotland, Ireland and Australia; and y’all is common in the US, as in the expression “Y’all have a nice day!” Y’all […]

Writing to Reconcile in Sri Lanka

Image courtesy Green College I interviewed over email the award-winning author Shyam Selvadurai on a new initiative called Write to Reconcile, of which he is Project Director. Groundviews featured an in-depth interview with Shyam in mid-2011, when he was the curator of the Galle Literary Festival. Write to Reconcile is his brainchild, and I was curious […]

Reflections on ‘Widows’ and ‘Unearthed’

Work and travel kept me from writing about two significant theatre productions in the past month. Ariel Dorfman’s ‘Widows’ directed by Feroze Kamardeen and produced by Sirraj Abdul Hameed was staged at the Wendt from 23-25 of November. ‘Unearthed’, billed as a site-specific theatre and dance journey through a private home, was directed by Ruhanie […]

Still Counting the Dead: A welcome first step

Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War, by Frances Harrison, Portobello Books, 246 pp, £ 14.99 “We used to be a very proud people”1 – Uma, The Teacher I Few years ago, during a very wintery January weekend, at a Copenhagen hotel, I was scrambling to prepare a last minute Power Point presentation […]

Being small, thinking Big: Publishing for the International Market

Original photo courtesy Tarika Wickremeratne Being small, thinking Big: Publishing for the International Market from the perspective of an independent small publisher concentrating on fiction) Sri Lanka, like many countries of the Asia-pacific region, has long been an exotic destination for travelers in search of the unusual, and as can be expected, there are quite a […]

Invitation to prospective writers: A Sri Lankan Anthology of Hint Fiction

Photo courtesy The Blue Bookcase Around two months ago, I picked up on a whim Hint Fiction edited by Robert Swartwood. Swartwood’s definition of hint fiction is ‘a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story’. As the book’s blurb on Amazon notes, “The stories in this collection run the gamut […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: S is for Singlish

Singlish is the term used to describe the mixture of Sinhala and English which is frequently used by bilingual speakers. But Singapore got there first: Singlish is generally accepted as referring to colloquial Singaporean English. In a Sri Lankan context, the word tends to be used humorously or derogatorily to refer to colloquial usage which […]