Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri’s ‘Stories’ was placed third at the 21st Queen’s English Society’s Prize for Excellent English in the UK. The prize was awarded with a special commendation for a non-native user of English.
The Prize for Excellent English is awarded for prose with the aim to encourage production of excellent English and provide good examples through re-printing some of the best entries in the Society’s journal ‘Quest’. Only pieces nominated by members of the QES are regarded for the prize and prose published in 2017 were considered for the 21st edition.
In the judges’ report, Stories was claimed to be a “piece [that] shows superb imagination and powers of description, with the most lyrical passages of any of the entries”. An extract of the novel will be published in ‘Quest’ 131.
Stories narrates the perception of a child who perceives a very different reality to others. Many little incidents in her fantastic reality are all woven together through Muthu; quite ordinary events when taken together conjure up a story that is extraordinary.
“As a child, I used to roam aimlessly in my aunt’s estate in Panawala. That woodland world was magical to say the least. ‘Stories’ was born out of those memories,” states Charulatha. Speaking of her latest win, she adds, “This was a complete surprise as I had no idea the book had been submitted. I found out when the certificate and letter arrived by post. Dr. Bernard Lamb, the Chairman of the QES had seen the book at the airport when he visited Sri Lanka. After reading it, he had nominated the book for the prize”.
Charulatha won her first award for ‘Stories’ – the Gratiaen Prize in 2016 – when the book was still in its manuscript form. This was followed by the Godage National Literary Award and State Literary Award for Best English Novel in 2017. The novel was also shortlisted under the English category at the Fairway National Literary Awards in 2018.