Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka wins the prestigious Booker Prize for his novel
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Shehan Karunatilaka, a Sri Lankan author, has won the 2022 Booker Prize for his second novel The Seven Moons Of Maali Almeida.
Praised by the judges as for the “scope and the skill, the daring, the audacity and hilarity”, the honour has made the 47-year-old author only the second Sri Lankan to win the £50,000 literary prize after Michael Ondaatje who received the award for ‘The English Patient’ in 1992.
The ceremony was held in London and marked the first fully in-person event since 2019, where a diverse range of talent and readers were present to celebrate some of the best literary works.
Neil MacGregor, Chair of the 2022 Booker judges described the book and said, “What the judges particularly admired and enjoyed in ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ was the ambition of its scope, and the hilarious audacity of its narrative techniques.”
“This is a metaphysical thriller, an afterlife noir that dissolves the boundaries not just of different genres, but of life and death, body and spirit, east and west. It is an entirely serious philosophical romp that takes the reader to ‘the world’s dark heart’ — the murderous horrors of civil war Sri Lanka. And once there, the reader also discovers the tenderness and beauty, the love and loyalty, and the pursuit of an ideal that justifies every human life,” he added.
Karunatilaka who was born in 1975 in Galle and grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, said in his acceptance speech that he was honoured and privileged to be nominated.
“I’m fans of all your books and fans of you,” he said.
“And without meaning to sound trite, we are all winners for being part of this magnificent shortlist, though, perhaps I might pocket the extra cash if that’s OK?”
He appreciated his publishers for believing in his “weird and difficult and strange” book and his readers for putting up with “so many messy, horrible drafts”.
Karunatilaka went on to add, “My hope for Seven Moons is this; that in the not-too-distant future, 10 years, as long as it takes, SriLanka… has understood that these ideas of corruption and race baiting and cronyism have not worked and will never work.
“I hope it’s in print in 10 years but if it is, I hope it’s written in Sri Lanka that learns from its stories, and that Seven Moons will be in the fantasy section of the bookshop… next to the dragons, the unicorns (and) will not be mistaken for realism or political satire.”
First established in 1969, the Booker is awarded to writers of any nationality whose work is written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.