THE GRATIAEN PRIZE 2021
The Unmarriageable Man by Ashok Ferrey
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, to be awarded annually, was established in 1993. The Prize has been awarded continuously since then.
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.
The winner of the Gratiaen Prize 2021 is Ashok Ferrey for his novel The Unmarriageable Man, published by Penguin, India. The winner was announced at a hybrid event with a limited in-person audience at the Barefoot Gallery in Colombo on 22nd June at 6.30 pm. The event was simultaneously live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Gratiaen Trust.
The Gratiaen Prize shortlist for 2021 was announced on 23rd May according to which the shortlisted works were, 'A Place called Home' by Uvini Atukorala; an unpublished collection of short stories, 'The Unmarriageable Man' by Ashok Ferrey; a published novel, 'The Lanka Box' by Ciara Mandulee Mendis; an unpublished collection of short stories and 'Talking to the Sky' by Rizvina Morseth de Alwis; an unpublished novel in manuscript form.
This year the judging panel was chaired by award winning Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Shyam Selvadurai whose work has been translated and published worldwide. The other members of the jury were Dr. Maduranga Kalugampitiya, Head of the Department of English at University of Peradeniya whose research is on contemporary socio-political issues and humanities education, and Keshini Jayawardena, who is an avid reader, an experienced banker and a consultant on leadership, diversity and inclusion. The panel featured, as usual, three perspectives – that of the creative writer, academic and informed reader.
This is the first year since the pandemic that the Gratiaen Prize event was held in-person. Due to the significant challenges facing Sri Lankans today, the Trust decided to scale back the event. Its hybrid format was also to reach readers of literature and supporters of the arts who could not attend the event in-person.
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