Jean Arasanayagam

Jean Solomons Arasanayagam (1931-2019) was a Sri Lankan poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist and painter.

Life events
Born on 2 December 1931 to a Burgher family as Jean Solomons she received her schooling in Kandy and graduated from the University of Ceylon (Nimavat, 2011). She obtained an M.Litt from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) in Literary Linguistics and worked as a lecturer at the English Teacher's College, Peradeniya (Ranaweera, 1991). In 1961 she is married into a Tamil named Thiyagrajah Arsanayagam lived in Navaly (Ranaweera, 1991; Sjöbohm, 1992). With the beginning of ethnic riots in the 1980s, Jean’s family had been victimized and was forced to flee the war zone as refugees in 1983 (Nimavat, 2011).

Arasanayagam's poems and short stories were published in a number of journals and anthologies in Sri Lanka and abroad (Ranaweera, 1991). Her works have been translated into several languages such as Danish, Swedish, French, German and Japanese (Nimavat, 2011). Besides being a poet, she was also a painter. Her paintings were once featured in the Asia Magazine as well as displayed in several exhibitions held in the Commonwealth Institute (UK), the Paris Biennale (France), and Lionel Wendt [(Sri Lanka) Ranaweera, 1991].

Arasanayagam died on 30 July 2019 in Kandy at the age of 87.

# Kindura (1973)
# Poems of a season beginning and a season over (1977)
# Apocalypse'83 (1984)
# A colonial inheritance and other poems (1985)
# Out of our prisons we emerge (1986)
# Trial by Terror (published in New Zealand in 1987)
# The reddened water flows clear (published in the United Kingdom in 1990)
# Shooting the Floricans (1993) 
# Women,  All  women (2000)

Prose works
# The cry of the kite (a collection of short stories published in 1983)
# The outsider (published in Japan in 1987)
# Fragments of a Journey (1992)
# All is burning (1995)
# Peacocks and Dreams (1996)
# In the Garden Secretly and other Stories (2000)
# Dragons in the Wilderness (2008)

# The Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Non-fiction (1984) for Bhairava: A childhood in Navaly
# The Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Poetry (1985)
# The Triton College International Award for poetry (1990) 
# Premchand Fellowship of the Sahitya Akademi, India (2014)
# Sahityaratna award of the Sri Lankan government (2017)

1) Nimavat, D.B., 2011. The Cassandras in Exile: A Study of the Diasporic Sensibility in the Poetry of Meena Alexander, Sujata Bhatt, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Moniza Alvi and Jean Arasanayagam (Doctoral dissertation, Saurashtra University). pp.223-238.
2) Ranaweera, E., 1991. Some literary women of Sri Lanka. Women's Education and Research Centre. pp.1-3.
3) Sjöbohm, A., 1992. "Someone smashed in the door and gave me my freedom": On the writings of Jean Arasanayagam. World Literature Today, 66(1). pp.35-38.

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This page was last updated on 1 May 2022
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