Ajith Samaranayake, Ceylon Today, Giraya, James Goonewardene, Punyakante Wijenaike, Servants, Terrorist Trilogy, The Awakening of Dr Kirthi, The Terrorist’s Daughter, This Waiting Earth, Thisuri Wanniarachchi
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
At the launch of The Terrorist’s Daughter
By Thisuri Wanniarachchi
At the Taj Samudra Hotel, August 14th 2014
It is a pleasure to speak at the launch of Thisuri Wanniarachchi’s second novel, The Terrorist’s Daughter. But I must confess that I wondered initially what had prompted a young lady I did not know to ask me to do this. Though I spent many years promoting Sri Lankan writing in English, at a time when the academic establishments of the day tended to look down on this, that was a very long time ago.
Yet having read through the novel, I began to understand. One of my criticisms of the literary establishment at the time was its celebration of what I termed the ‘village well’ syndrome. So Punyakante Wijenaike’s brilliant and very sophisticated novel Giraya was torn to pieces, but there was adulation by a Colombo academic of the wife in This Waiting Earth, as representing the real village woman. The sharp social criticism of a village elite in the later novel was not highlighted, nor was James Goonewardene’s The Awakening of Dr Kirthi, still perhaps the best analysis of what had destroyed the administration of this country.
I have long felt that works dealing with these higher levels of society are also important, because after this is where decisions that affect larger groups of humanity are made. My own writings, uniquely at the time, dealt with the very highest echelons of power, in that my first novel was based on the ethnic violence of 1983 and I indicated there that that violence had received the blessings of the highest level of decision making. So the entire Terrorist Trilogy dealt direct as it were with the events of 1983 and 1987 and 1989-90. My next novel, Servants, was in a different vein, but its subject matter was similar, since it too, if more obliquely, addressed social and political developments during that long drawn out period of crisis.