“Thisuri’s dream award”
“I think a lot of people had a problem with the fact that I was too young to publish a book,” said Thisuri Wanniarachchi, the youngest recipient of the State Literary Award for her book “Colombo Streets” speaking of criticism. “I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the book, but I chose to ignore it, because I know I wrote the book for the love of it, and knew someone somewhere would read it and others would like it.”
Thisuri Wanniarachchi, who just turned 17 last week, says the book has turned her life around. “Winning this award was a distant dream,” she says. “I just didn’t think I would win it from my first book itself.”
Thisuri wrote her book “Colombo Streets” when she was just 14 years old and studying at St. Bridget’s Convent. She published the book when she turned 15, and now at 17 is a recipient of the State Literary Award, the highest recognition by the state for work of literature.
“I didn’t think I would win because next to me was Ashok Ferry’s whose book was also nominated for the award and Prashani Rambukwella’s book. Obviously they are leagues ahead of me, and I knew I didn’t stand a chance to win,” she said.
After having read her book, Patricia Butins, ambassador to USA in Sri Lanka presented Thisuri with a full scholarship for a two week internship at the Kenyon Review in Ohio. “Things have changed in ways I’ve never expected,” she said. “My trip to Ohio was amazing and full of so many memories and lessons that I’ve learned.”
“Now when I meet people, everyone asks me about my writing. They say I shouldn’t stop writing just because I received an award, but continue and do better. People now recognise me as a writer,” she said.
Thisuri has already embarked on writing her second book. She enthused that it would be much different and rather advanced than her first attempt. “I started the book long before I won this award, so I hope to have it published towards the end of this year.”
Thisuri’s parents who are equally shocked at their daughter winning the award say they are as proud as they can be. “I am happy that my parents are happy because of me and proud of my accomplishment. If there’s someone I need to thank, it’s them and my siblings for all their support.”