Do you love reading Sri Lankan novels? Then for your inspiration, studentlanka contributor, Achinthya Bandara researched and selected all time best books ever written by Sri Lankan Authors.
When it comes to literature there are books that you should never miss. ‘The mother’ by Maxim Gorky, ‘The Cherry Orchard’ by Anton Chekov, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, The Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky are some of such books in world literature of all time. When reading these you can overview the ideology and the social phenomena behind them. Therefore reading good literature is a way of obtaining holistic experiences.
Sri Lankan literature is also as rich as the other literatures such as Russian, American or African, etc. Therefore in this article we suggest you some of the novels which are believed to be the all time best books in Sri Lanka.
We have selected these books based on a recent research done among some outstanding scholars that pioneered in literature and literature criticism. The main rationale in selecting was how far they can demonstrate and represent the aspects of Sri Lankan society and culture.
When interviewed these scholars each one had their favorite authors. But some books were favored by many of them, and they identified these books as pillars of Singhalese novel.
Meena by A Simon de Silva
Jayatissa and Rosalin by Piayadasa Sirisena
Viragaya by Martin Wickramasinghe
Gamperaliya by Martin Wickramasinghe
Chritha Thunak by K. Jayathilaka
Karumakkarayo by Gunadasa Amarasekara
Sansaaranyaye Dadayakkaraya by Simon Nawagattegama
Wilaasiniyakage Premaya by Ediriweera Sarathcandra
Hewanellak by Siri Gunasinghe
Sedona by Eva Ranaweera
Sinhalese novel is one of the major literature genre appeared in Sri Lanka. Yet the history of the Sri Lankan literature carries several examples for literature works such as Amawathura, Buthsarana, saddarmarathnawaliya, etc., they have not recognized as either novels or fictions. When the western cultures influenced in Sri Lankan context in various aspect the literature was also considered. This resulted novel, short story, free verse and fiction to the Sinhalese literature.
When this influence occurred, a tendency for a newly formed literature was appeared among the local writers. Meena, the first ever novel of Sri Lanka written by A. Simon De Silva invented a new literature pathway to the local literature arena. Based on the life of a young girl; Meena, whose mother was a typical Sinhalese woman, married to a foreign soldier is the subject of the novel. This particular novel led the storytelling society to a stage of abstract literature reference. If you are interested in Sri Lankan novels you should read Meena as the first ever Sri Lankan novel and as the transitional point of the Sinhalese literature.
Jayatissa saha Rosalin; published in 1904, is the first novel of Piyadasa Sirisena. In between Gamperaliya and Meena, this novel is said to be the most important book as it has both fiction and novel characteristics.
As we discussed in the previous post, Martin Wickramasinghe is also in this list. There are two major novels that these scholars have been selected as the all time novels; Viragaya and Gamperaliya. Viragaya contains an abstract value as it explains the abstractness of a human mind and its behavior with reference to a local context. Gamperaliya; the first chapter of his trilogy, is one of the best explanation given by an author about the socio- political transition happened in Sri Lanka as a result of colonization and its aftermaths.
Charitha Thunak (Three Characters) by K. Jayathilaka is the other novel that you should definitely read. Based on a rural family of Isa, this novel expresses the Sri Lankan culture and the society dramatically. It also explains the social and family relationships while revealing the real nature of them. As a novelist who explored the Sri Lankan culture and society Jayathilaka shows a realistic reading about the authentic social mould of the country.
Simon Nawagattegama; the creator of many upstream literary works, is the author of the other all time novel, Sansaaranyaye Dadayakkaraya (The Hunter of the motion world). As same as in his other works he has introduced a new approach to the typical Sinhalese novel.
Though Sedona (2008) by Eva Ranaweera is much newer book it still plays the role of an all time book. As the writer always does, this novel too expresses the life of the Sri Lankan women and their socio- political circumstances.
Karumakkarayo, Wilaasiniyakage Premaya, and Hewanellak are the other three all time novels in this particular list written by Gunadasa Amarasekara, Ediriweera Sarathcandra and Siri Gunasinghe consecutively. Amarasekara has written some of the other books that can also be considered as the all time novels such as Gamanaka Mula, which you might read too. As the pioneer dramatist, that changed the flow of Sri Lankan drama to a dynamic path by producing Simhabahu, Maname and several other dramas, Sarathcandra also written some great novels like Wilaasiniyakage Premaya, Malagiya Eththo, and Malawunge Aurududa. Therefore his novel Wilaasiniyakage Premaya can be taken as one of the all time novels of Sri Lanka. Even though Siri Gunasinghe had been popular as a poet his novels can also be considered as great works. Out of them, Hewanellak earns the highest points as an all time novel.
Considering all mentioned books we can give you a general idea about them. That is, simply if you want to overview the whole Sri Lankan context in a literary sense, then these are the best piece of works.
Apart from above listed novels some other novels can also be recommended for your reference. As above books, they too explain the social, cultural, economic and political situations of Sri Lanka in numerous aspects and point of views.
Kandak Sema by Sumithra Rahubaddha
Baththalangunduwa by Manjula Wediwardene
Paalama yata by Kulasena Fonseka
Saapekshana by Simon Nawagattegama
Sadun gira Gini Ganiy by Sunthra Raajakarunanayake
Dhara by Kathelin Jayawardene
Aswenna by Jayasena Jayakody
Wap Magula by Somarathne Balasooriya
Achinthya Bandara is a final year B.A. Sinhala Special degree undergraduate of University of Colombo.
He also studied in La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia.