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Andrew Fidel Fernando 2019 Gratiaen Prize winner


Andrew Fidel Fernando was awarded the 2019 Gratiaen Prize for literary excellence for his work, the travelogue titled ‘Upon a Sleepless Isle’. 

The Gratiaen Trust went digital for the 2019 edition of the awards and things kicked off with the live stream at 6.30 PM on July 4, streamed on the official Facebook pages of the Gratiaen Trust, John Keells Foundation, and their media partner. 

Amongst the shortlisted candidates were Praveen Jayamanne for his novel ‘The Double Doorway’, Upali Mahaliyana for the novel ‘Tom-tom Boy’ and Vihanga Perera for his book of poems titled ‘Sentimental Pieces / The Private Funeral / The Classical War’. 

A renowned sports journalist and writer for one of the world’s leading sports websites – ESPNcricinfo, Fernando has shared that having once dreamed of becoming a cricketer himself how he then settled for the next best thing – to become a sports journalist, stating cheekily on his twitter bio “My writing is better than my legspin. That is not a high bar.” 

Fernando’s work is humorous while representative of the conventions of sports journalism combined with cleverly weaved together anecdotal storytelling. His published travelogue ‘Upon a Sleepless Isle’ which has now won him the island’s most distinctive recognition for literary excellence was said to have been shortlisted for the prize for its clarity of vision and purpose, as per the judges’ citation. 

The citation further read that the work was recognised for its exhibiting of the skilled use of language and the device of humour, adding also that it is “a work that disguises itself as a travel companion all the while distilling countless experiences and anecdotes to elevate it as a work of creative and literary distinction.”

About the win itself, Fernando shared on Twitter: “This is such an honour. I’m overjoyed. I loved the travel for Upon a Sleepless Isle. I met so many who have become friends. There are countless incredible, outrageous, dizzying, gut-busting, heart-rending stories in Sri Lanka. It’s been a privilege to tell just a few.”