September is the month of bibliophiles; the month when bookworms vanish amongst a stampede of smoke and screams to get to book sales and whatnot.
The "Swarna Pusthaka Awards" have partnered with Colombo International Book Fair (CIBF) and is one of the biggest events held to mark the Literary month. It is also a much-awaited prestigious prize among Sinhala Writers in Sri Lanka.
It's organized by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association (SLBPA), and takes place every September. Inspiring and encouraging a new generation of Sinhala writers to produce good novels that nourish the Sinhala literature is the purpose of this contest.
In Swarna Pusthaka Awards, the writers are given a certain time period to submit their books published in the previous year (For 2017 contest, writers have to submit books published in 2016).
Once the submission period is due, evaluation of the books starts, and it happens in three stages.
At the first stage, ten eminent judges (Paadaka Mandalaya) in the first panel read every book that has been submitted. Based on mutual discussion they select 10 - 15 books for the second round, which will be investigated by the second panel of judges (Madhya Mandalaya).
Madhya Mandalaya shortlists five books for the final round. The responsibility of selecting the winning book for the Swarna Pusthaka Award is decided by the third panel of judges (Uththareethara Mandalaya).
It's announced at the awarding ceremony which takes place in September at Bandaranayake Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH).
The winning book gets a huge attraction and a reputation at CBIF. All the final round nominees are rewarded with cash prizes.
123 novels were submitted to the 2016 contest, and the following five books were nominated for the final round.
Ahambakaraka - Liyanage Amarakeerthi
Manikkawatha - Mahinda Prasad Masimbula
Kolambaya Saha Shanghaiya - Sunethra Rajakaruna
Paradesi - Eric Illayapparachchi
Dulwala Alankare - Sumudu Niragi Senevirathne
As many of you might already know, the novel Ahambakaraka by Mr.Liyanage Amarakeerthi won the Swarna Pusthaka Award in 2016. It's the second time he received the honour.
The final round nominees of this year's contest were:
Siya Siya Path Siya - Sumithra Rahubadhda
Wanna Dasi - Kathyana Amarasinghe
Garunda Muhurthaya - Keerthi Welisarage
Pransha Pemwatha - Shamel Jayakody
Handa Paluwa Thani Tharuwa - Nishshanka Wijemanna
The competition was tight this year, as two of the previous Swarna Pusthaka Award nominees are selected to the final round. Both Mr. Shamel Jayakody and Mrs. Sumithra Rahubadhda are competing for the award this time. Mrs. Rahubadhda already won the Swarna Pusthaka Award in 2010, for her novel Kandak Sema. Mr. Jayakody has been nominated to the final round in previous Swarna Pusthaka contests. So it was as heated as could get.
Last year’s cash prize for the Swarna Pusthaka Award winner was Rs. 500 000, but this time it has been increased to Rs. 750 000 which is pretty impressive. The nominees of the final round are awarded with extra Rs. 50 000 to their usual cash prize, making it to Rs. 100 000.
After going head to head in this literary battle, a winner has been crowned!
The novel Handa Paluwa Thani Tharuwa by Nishshanka Wijemanne won the Swarna Pusthaka Award this year.
We wish Mr. Wijemanne all the best!
It's all over now, so what to do in the meantime?
For you bibliophiles, you get to finally look attend to your favourite event of the year, CIBF which is to be held on 15th - 24th of September. See you there!
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