Power of the Book event poster
Power of the Book event poster
Wednesday 06 August 2014
18:30 to 19:30
Online event (livestream)

A British Council Evening Talk

Literature is held in great reverence across South Asia. Why does the written word have such power in South Asia? And how will this play out in the 21st century? Will rising economic wealth change the way people relate to books and the written word? Will the increase in digital freedom across the region impact on people’s reading habits? Will the emergence of e-books mean the death of the library?

Join us live via livestream for an interesting panel discussion moderated by Ashok Ferry with: 

  • Lal Medewattegedera (writer) 
  • Sunethra Rajakarunannayake (meditation teacher and creative writer)  
  • Cortina Butler (Director of Literature, British Council, UK) 

A presentation on "The revolution of e-books" will also be delivered by Rajiv Gunasena, Director - MD Gunasena book publishers, who has been in the forefront of digital publishing in Sri Lanka.  



Photo of Ashok Ferrey

Ashok Ferrey


Ashok Ferrey has been many things: failed builder, indifferent mathematician, barman and personal trainer to the rich and the infamous. He is also an author. Ashok’s first two books, Colpetty People and The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, were each shortlisted for Sri Lanka’s Gratiaen Award and his third, the novel Serendipity, was shortlisted for the State Literary Award of 2009. He currently hosts an arts programme, The Ashok Ferrey Show, on Sri Lankan national television. 

Photo of Lal Medawattegedara © nation.lk

Lal Medawattegedera


Lal Medawattegedara teaches English Literature at the Open University of Sri Lanka. His has published three books: The Window Cleaner’s Soul (short-listed: 2002 Gratiaen Prize) and Can you hear me running (Zeus Publications: 2006) and his first novel Playing Pillow Politics at MGK won the 2012 Gratiaen Prize. His work has been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Times of India, Khaleej Times & Himal.  He is presently writing his second novel. 

Sunethra Rajakarunanayake

Sunethra Rajakarunanayake


Sunethra Rajakarunanayake has written 39 books in both Sinhala and English and received many awards, including 4 Arts Council and 2 Golden Book awards. Sunethra has won awards for her contribution to print and electronic media. She has written 10 other books on development issues. Her wanderlust has taken her across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, parts of China and California. Sambol+, a collection of short stories was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award in 2004. 

Cortina Butler

Director Literature, British Council

Cortina Butler is Director Literature at the British Council. She has more than 30 years’ experience working in the international publishing industry, most recently as Global Editor-in-Chief for the Reader’s Digest Association where she was responsible for delivering the programme of fiction and non-fiction books and music, video and digital products for the Reader's Digest companies worldwide.