Neloufer de Mel


Sri Lankan literature in English is not a major player in the country's mass media scenario.1 Those who choose to write in English are people who, through education and family background, have their roots in the history of English as the language of colonialism and socio-economic privilege in Sri Lanka, and, consequently, belong to a very small group. Failure to teach English as a vital second or third language, along with continuing institutional marginalization of Sri Lankan English, have meant that only a handful of writers are confident and fluent enough to write in English? The lack of a large reading public for books in English results in commercial reluctance by major publishers to publish more than one, or at the most, two books per year. Those writing in English are forced therefore to publish privately, or collectively through The English Writer's Cooperative. They may also look to an interested NGO, or put their faith in the Arts Council of Sri Lanka which, after competition, awards Rs.10,000/- to different categories of writing, or the National Library Services Board which at most agrees to buy Rs.25,000/- worth of books but only after they have been printed by their authors in the first place. The fact remains then that most books published in English are self-financed.



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