South Asian Review Special Issue on “Global Sri Lankan Literature and Culture”

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Dinidu Karunanayake / South Asian Review

Call for Papers

South Asian Review Special Issue on Sri Lanka

 “Global Sri Lankan Literature and Culture”

The multivalent historical, political, and cultural events of the last few years have drawn global attention to Sri Lanka. In particular, the citizen-led protest campaign against the backdrop of the country’s worst economic crisis that toppled the ruling Rajapaksa regime in 2022 (known as “Aragalaya”) has been globally celebrated at a time when democracy urgently demands a sustained engagement by the public. Recent work by a new generation of writers with a local and global focus, including Anuk Arudpragasam, V.V. Ganeshananthan, and SJ Sindu, has galvanized support towards rethinking issues faced by Sri Lanka in the postcolonial period by attending to rifts between the state and its subjects, official narratives and subaltern experiences, history and memories, and the perils and promises of dissent. Shehan Karunatilaka’s 2022 Booker Prize-winning novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida encapsulates the stakes of our time and the power of storytelling to hold the postcolonial state and its global allies accountable. The special issue of South Asian Review intervenes in this dialogue by focusing on the global implications and impact of contemporary Sri Lankan literature and culture.

In 2012, South Asian Review published a special issue devoted to Sri Lankan Anglophone literature, specifically focusing on politics, human rights, the military conflict and its aftermath, and postcoloniality. While these issues continue to condition the lived experiences of present-day Sri Lankans both on the island and in the diaspora, they have become even more entangled in regional and global geopolitics. During a postwar era that witnessed a surge of new forms of nativist and hypernationalist movements against the Muslim minority, the rise of an ethnocratic regime that exploited these divisions, and the Easter 2019 attacks targeting the Christian community that continue to remain unresolved, writers and artists have been experimenting with new modes of expression to render legible the assemblages of political, capitalist, and cultural forces at play.  

We invite submissions that investigate the “global mark” of Sri Lankan literature published both at home and abroad. We are especially interested in the following topics, but welcome a broad range of proposals:

-       Representations of the “Aragalaya” and its aftermath

-       Interrogations of the economic crisis, neoliberal implications, and IMF interventions

-       Trauma narratives (such as The Boat People by Sharon Bala; The Story of a Brief Marriage and A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam; Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan; Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai)

-       Attempts at bearing witness to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings (such as Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje; Twelve Cries from Home: In Search of Sri Lanka’s Disappeared by Minoli Salgado; The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka)

-       Explorations of transnationalism through depictions of Sri Lanka’s migrant housemaids, garment industry, and tea industry

-       Working class literature

-       Resurgent genres such as travel narratives (Ibn Battuta in Sri Lanka by Ameena Hussein; The Line of Lanka by Sunela Jayewardene), memoirs (Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala; In the Shadow of a Sword by Thamizhini), detective fiction, children’s fiction

-       Intersections of gender, sexualities, disability (through the work of writers such as Mary Anne Mohanraj, SJ Sindu, Priya Guns, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Nayomi Munaweera)

-       Ethnonationalism and minoritarian identities (the work of writers such as Shobasakthi, R. Cheran, and A. Sivanandan) 

-       The role of international prizes and the Gratiaen Prize (now in its 30th year) in expanding the audience for Sri Lankan literature

-       The politics of publishing and promoting Sri Lankan literature at home and globally

-       The politics of translation and the significance of translated work in the postwar period (Then There Were No Witnesses by P. Ahilan and Geetha Sukumaran; Speechless is the River by Vivimarie VanderPoorten—translations of Upekala Athukorala’s poems; Sinhala Fiction from Post-War Sri Lanka by Madhubashini Disanayaka Ratnayake; Lakdhas Wikkramasinha by Aparna Halpé and Michael Ondaatje)

-       Explorations of human rights discourse in recent writing; responses to anti-terrorism legislation and authoritarianism

-       Ecocriticism (Romesh Gunesekera’s Noon Tide Toll)

-       Ecological disaster (the Asian tsunami)

-       Science fiction

-       Migrant experiences (Michelle de Kretser, Channa Wickremesekera, Ru Freeman, Chandani Lokugé)

-       Drama (Ruwanthie de Chickera)

-       Poetry (Indran Amirthanayagam, Vivimarie VanderPoorten, Sivamohan Sumathy, Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe)

-       Short stories (Ashok Ferrey, Lal Medawattegedara)

-       Experimental/multi-modal work

We welcome informal inquiries, and potential contributors should submit a 500-word abstract and a biographical note of 50 words to by July 1. Invited full papers of 5000-7500 words in length will be due by December 31, 2023 and will be subject to double-blind peer review for final acceptance.


Dr. Maryse Jayasuriya

University of Texas at El Paso

Co-guest Editor


Dr. Dinidu Karunanayake

Elon University

Co-guest Editor