Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke and Prof Vini Vitharana win | Sunday Observer

Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke and Prof Vini Vitharana win

16 June, 2019
One Who Loves You So  scripted by Arun
One Who Loves You So scripted by Arun

The Gratiaen Prize 2018, the much awaited literary prize of the year was won by Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke for his play-script, The One Who Loves You So . Arun’s writing was admired by the judges for its sophistication, which they described as a successful piece of writing in one of the hardest genres in literature. They praised his ability and bravery to discover and exploit life’s experiences, specifically of the LGBTQ+ community, who face many obstacles and limitations to express their experience of love freely, due to the heterosexual norms implemented by the socio-political discourses of society. The One Who Loves You So is scripted to portray the relationship between two men meeting via a dating app, originally scripted for a stage play which Arun directed and staged two years ago for a limited audience. Speaking at the ceremony Arun said he’s very happy for his LGBTQ+ siblings who always wish him well and for those who he made this show. “Hopefully, it inches the door open for more voices to barrel through. Voices that represent a greater diversity of thought and talent, voices that are not just cis-gendered Sinhalese gay men but voices that represent the differences of race, gender, sexuality and class that exist within our community, and can in turn lead to our greater visibility and give power to our fight to be treated with dignity and respect.”

He said, “Oftentimes those of us who belong to minorities whether based on race, religion, sexuality or gender, are sold this line by those who have power, that we are all one, we are all the same. But we are not, we are different. Our values, our needs and our wants are all different. Although we are not the same, we are equal. And that should matter a hell of a lot more. That it is not about tolerance but about recognizing another person who has other needs and wants and being able to treat them with the dignity and respect that you would deserve for yourself,”

H.A.I Goonetileke Prize for Translation 2018 was won by Prof Vini Vitharana for his translation of the highly-acclaimed Sinhala classic Kav Silumina, meaning The Crest Gem of Poetry. H.A.I Goonetileka Prize was introduced to the Gratiaen Trust in 2003 and is solely dedicated to translations, introduced to create an opportunity for English readers to gain access to most of the rich, strong literature in other languages like Sinhala and Tamil. H.A.I Goonetileke was a librarian at the University of Peradeniya, an eminent scholar, and a close friend of Micheal Ondaatje, the founder of Gratiean Trust.

Prof. Vini Vitharana is one of the most prolific and foremost translators and scholars in both, Sinhala and English literature.

As a member of the Presidium of the Hela havula he worked consistently for the enhancement of the standard of Sinhala usage, lecturing and writing, for half a century. To his credit are two works on Sinhala Grammar and Translations of the Sinhala classics Muvadevdavata and Sasadavata into Sinhala. He is also the founder President of the Munidasa Kumaratunga Foundation and the Sunil Santa Sanmajaya. Speaking at the award ceremony, the chairperson of the judges of the H.A.I Goonetileke Prize for Translation, Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan said Prof. Vitharana’s translation had a unique voice easily accessible to the ordinary reader, a consistent use of meter and rhyme and eminently deserved its place within the cannon of translations of classical texts. Prof. Vini Vitharana said, “Although I’ve been born in a village in a jungle in the far South the first language I learnt was not Sinhala but English. From the beginning I learnt English more than any other language. At that time even Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit were taught in English. Much attention was paid to all the languages and therefore we had the opportunity to learn many languages thoroughly.

Sinhala is one of the most beautiful languages I have ever come across and also one of the most critical languages to be translated. I think I did my job well and appreciate the panel of judges of H.A.I Goonetileke Prize for Translation for recognizing my efforts,”

The Gratiaen Awards 2018 was held this year for the 26th consecutive year. The Gratiaen Trust was formed in 1993 by the Sri Lankan born, renowned novelist, poet and essayist, Micheal Ondaatje on winning the Booker Prize in 1992 for his novel English Patient. He formed The Gratiaen Trust to promote and recognize the creativity of Sri Lankan authors and translators.

The shortlist for the Gratiaen Awards 2018 included Chats with the Dead by Shehan Karunaratilake, Youthful Escapades by Upali Mahaliyana, ‘The One Who Loves You So by Arun Welandawe – Prematilleke and They Failed to Kill Her by Zeneefa Zaneer.

The panel of judges were Gill Cladicott, Director of British Council, Sri Lanka, Dr. Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe and Andi Schubert, Senior Lecturer, Department of Language Studies, Open University, Sri Lanka. The panel of judges for H.I.A Goonatileke Prize was Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan, Prof. Saumya Liyanage, Charulatha Thewarathanthri, a creative writer whose first manuscript, Autumn Leaves was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize in 2011 and Esther Surenthiraraj, Lecturer at the Department of English, University of Colombo.