The Sri Lankan Novel

Contributor/s : Romesh Gunesekera, V. V. Ganeshananthan, Razia Iqbal

Recorded on date : May 10, 2017

Recorded at Location : British Library Knowledge Centre

Ever since Sinbad the Sailor washed ashore there, Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – has drawn writers and storytellers from all over the world. But it is only in the last 20 years or so that Sri Lankan literature has come to international attention. Romesh Gunesekera grew up in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. His first book, Monkfish Moon, was a collection of short stories reflecting the ethnic and political tensions that have threatened Sri Lanka since independence in 1948. His second, Reef, was shortlisted for the Booker. Earlier this year, he published Noontide Toll, a novel set a post-war Sri Lanka still haunted by trauma. V. V. Ganeshananthan is a fiction writer, essayist and journalist whose Love Marriage (2008), about two Tamil families in Sri Lanka and North America, was longlisted for the Orange Prize. In a conversation with BBC journalist Razia Iqbal they discuss the long shadow that war has cast over Sri Lankan literature, the challenges of writing fiction in the context of a troubled political climate, and the connection between writers living in Sri Lanka, and those of the diaspora working in Canada, America, Australia and the UK.

We are grateful to the Robert Gavron Charitable Foundation for sponsoring this event.


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