News Article about Thisuri Wanniarachchi, The Sunday Times, November 2010

Honing her craft

The Mirror Magazine which featured young writer Thisuri Wanniarachchi following her stint in the US, catches up with her on her recent success at the State Literary Awards
The State Literary Awards are a celebration of local literature, appreciating and recognizing the past year’s most riveting and powerfully written works. However this year’s awards were especially memorable, for amongst the ranks of the immensely gifted Sinhalese, Tamil and English authors stood 17-year-old Thisuri Wanniarachchi , the youngest writer to ever claim the accolade.

When Thisuri stepped up to claim her award for Best English Novel from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, she was essentially assenting to the fact that she had just punched her way to victory over such local literary heavyweights as Gratiaen Prize winner Prashani Rambukwella and the very popular Ashok Ferry.

“It was so unexpected, and I just feel really happy and greatly encouraged to win such a respected award,” a clearly contented Thisuri stated. The vehicle that had driven her to this success was her 2009 novel ‘Colombo Streets’, which she astoundingly wrote while just fourteen.

Its plot revolves around a girl named Sarah, who aspires to be a top ranked swimmer before she is afflicted with cancer. This tragedy places before her several obstacles which she and her family, which includes her adopted war scarred sister Indeevari, have to surmount.

She said that the central theme, of suffering through the trials of cancer, in ‘Colombo Streets’ was a situation that she could easily identify with as she had known and encountered a lot of people who were battling with the disease.

“My father is also an officer in the Army and I have travelled with him many times to the war affected regions of the country so that also helped me gain an understanding of life in such an atmosphere,” Thisuri explains, referring to the inspiration behind her story’s other strongly resonating theme. Currently Thisuri is working on a new novel which is still in its early stages and the young writer will be hoping to exhibit the growth she has enjoyed as a writer during the two years since Colombo Streets. Amongst the major catalysts for this literary maturity was a recent two week workshop in the United States called ‘Young Writers’, for which Thisuri served as the only Sri Lankan attendee.

“That gave me a lot of useful experience and really showed me the flaws of my current style and new techniques I could incorporate into my writing,” Thisuri reveals.

As an emerging writer she wants to continue to hone her craft and progress gradually while also focusing on her other immediate goals, such as completing her schooling. Nevertheless, considering the enthusiasm, confidence and undeniable talent she exudes, it would be foolhardy to bet against her procuring more literary honours in the future.


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