‘Vinivindina Sithivili’ | Sunday Observer

‘Vinivindina Sithivili’

Author: Sumudu Chathurani Jayawardane
Publisher: M.D. Gunasena(Pvt) Company Ltd
Reviewed by R.S. Karunaratne

Sumudu Chathurani Jayawardane’s Vinivindina Sithivili is a collection of columns published in the Silumina newspaper. The book comes with an erudite preface written by Prof. Wimal Dissanayake.

In journalism, a column is a relatively short composition on a subject that appeals to the reader. It does not claim scholarly thoroughness, but it does exhibit great variety. Columns can be about almost anything under the sun; they can be speculative, factual, or emotional. They can also be personal, objective, serious or humorous. The very looseness of the term is a convenience; it would be a mistake to define it precisely.

Here a column would simply mean a short prose piece. There are differences among feature articles, reports and newspaper columns. But they have much in common, and what we say about the column – its beginning, structure, closing and so on – apply to compositions generally.

Readers approach any column with a set of questions. What is this about? Will it interest me? What does the writer intend to do or not to do? What kind of person is the writer? The columnist should be able to answer such questions, one way or another.

From the columnist’s point of view, the beginning means announcing and limiting the subject, indicating a plan, catching the reader’s attention, establishing an appropriate tone and point of view. Sri Lanka can boast of a long line of columnists. I still remember Chandraratne Manavasinghe’s ‘Vagathuga’, Dayasena Gunasinghe’s ‘Seeyage Kolama’ and ‘Ukussa’, Sundara Nihathamani de Mel’s ‘Manige Theeruva’, Prof. Sunanda Mahendra’s ‘Windfalls’, Karunadasa Sooriyarachchi’s ‘Vataravuma’, and a host of other literary and political columns. All such columns had a personal point of view. On the other hand, most columns are confined to a particular subject. Some columns are devoted to political matters. Ajith Samaranayake wrote on politics with a literary touch. Prof. Wimal Dissanayake’s columns are mostly on literature. Prof. Sunanda Mahendra avoids politics and writes on general topics that appeal to the reader.

Sumudu Chaturani through her writings shows that she is a well-read person. Her column on ‘Natana Gayana Poth’ emphasizes the importance of reading while hinting at the unfulfilled task of the International Book Fair held annually at the BMICH. Those who really want to buy books are pushed back by those who rush to the venue to have a nice time. For them the book exhibition is another carnival. They have no interest in purchasing books and reading them. Unfortunately, the organizers are helpless in this matter.

Most of the essays found in this anthology have emotional overtones. They touch the heart more than the brain. The only drawback I found in the book is that it has no contents page. Without a contents page, it is inconvenient for the reader to find his/her favourite essays.

Sumudu Chathurani’s language and presentation skills are above average. She has a compelling style of writing on serious matters making them simplistic for the reader. With this collection of essays she has established herself as a reliable columnist readers can look forward to.

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