Salute for scribes
The 1992 Booker Prize co-winner Michael Ondaatje founded Gratiaen
award to encourage local English writing. The prize was named after his
mother Doris Gratiaen. Initially, the Prize was administered by Ian
Goonetileke, the former librarian, University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, but
later handed over to the Gratiaen Trust, which was set up for the
The three judges selected each year by the Trust make their choice
from an increasing number of entries - in the past few years over 50 -
submitted by authors and publishers.
The entries include fiction, poetry, drama and literary memoir,
either published during the last year or presented in manuscript form.
Initially a short-list of five is chosen, and the winner is announced at
the Gratiaen Prize award event.
To quote Ondaatje's own words at the first-ever presentation of the
Prize: "The Gratiaen Prize is an attempt on one level to share the
I was lucky. But more important it is to celebrate and test and trust
ourselves. To select and argue about the literature around us. To take
it seriously, not just to see it as a jewel or a decoration."
The 2011 Gratiaen shortlisted works are now announced.
The panel of judges comprise former British Council director Gill
Westaway, Associate Professor Harshana Rambukwella and playwright Delon
About fifty entries had been submitted for 2011. The winner will
stand alone on May 26.