Dispatches from a Busy Intersection: New Sinhala Book Zooms In and Zooms Out

Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya book cover: A Ravaya Publication

PROMOTIONAL NOTE FOR MY NEW BOOK IN SINHALA:

Colombo, Sri Lanka; 18 September 2012:

Science writer Nalaka Gunawardene’s new Sinhala book, Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya (සිවුමංසල කොලූ ගැටයා), is being launched at the Colombo International Book Fair that runs from 18 to 26 September 2012.

A Ravaya Publication, the book is an edited collection of his weekly Sinhala columns by the same name, contributed to the Ravaya Sunday broadsheet newspaper in Sri Lanka during 2011.

Beginning in February 2011, Nalaka has sustained a column that touches on many and varied topics related to popular science, human development, mass media and information society. The book compiles 44 of these columns.

“The title is of my column is derived from its particular scope and angle. I stand at the intersection (or confluence) of science, development, media and culture. Once there, I often play the role of that cheeky lad who asked difficult questions, and once pointed out the Emperor(s) had nothing on when all others were either too polite or too scared to say so,” Nalaka says.

He calls the book a personalised exploration of how Sri Lanka can cope with many challenges of globalisation and modernisation. Nalaka writes in conversational Sinhala, rich in metaphor and analogy, and drawing on his own wide experiences as a journalist, filmmaker and development communicator. He often mixes the big picture level analysis (bird’s eye view) with ground level reality checks (toad’s eye view).

“I like to ‘zoom in’ and ‘zoom out’ when discussing topics as diverse as coping with HIV/AIDS, nurturing innovation, regulating the Internet, tackling climate change or farming without costing the Earth,” he says. “I do so with an open mind and sense of wonder. I have no particular ideology to promote and no sacred cows to protect!”

He adds: “As a journalist, I was trained to look for what’s New, True and Interesting (‘NTI Test’). Early on in my career, I went beyond simply reporting events, and probed the underlying causes and processes. With those insights, I can now offer my readers perspectives and seasoned opinion. These are much needed today as we swim through massive volumes of information, trying to stay afloat and make sense of it all.”

The book marks Nalaka’s return to Sinhala writing after an absence of two decades during which he communicated mostly in English to various international audiences. “In a sense, with this column I have come back home. The last time I wrote in Sinhala was in another century, and in what now feels like another country!” he says.

Trained as a science writer, Nalaka has been associated with mass media, communication and development spheres for 25 years both in Sri Lanka and at Asian regional level. A ‘Digital Immigrant’ who learnt Internet skills mid-career, he calls himself a “life-long student and experimenter” in mainstream and new media. Each week, after newspaper publication, his column engages online readers at: www.nalakagunawardene.com

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