End of the World and Other Conspiracies: Columnist Tackles Inconvenient Truths

Cover of Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya Book 2 by Nalaka Gunawardene, pub Sep 2013
Cover of Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya Book 2 by Nalaka Gunawardene, pub Sep 2013


Science writer Nalaka Gunawardene’s latest Sinhala book, Wada Kaha Sudiye Sita Loka Winashaya Dakwa, will be released at the Colombo International Book Fair that starts on 14 September 2013.

A Ravaya Publication, the book is a collection of the author’s weekly column Sivu Mansala Kolu Getaya contributed to the Ravaya newspaper during 2012-13.

Through 54 columns, the book offers personalised insights and non-technical analysis related many current issues and topics in science, technology, sustainable development and information society in the Lankan context. It is written in an easy, conversational Sinhala style rich in metaphor and analogy.

In particular, this collection probes how and why Lankan society is increasingly prone to peddling conspiracy theories without critical examination or rational discussion. From astrological hype linked to end of the world in 2012 to claims of mass poisoning via agrochemicals, Nalaka seeks to separate facts from hype, conjecture and myth.

The book defies easy categorisation, as it covers topics as diverse as alternative histories, agrochemical misuse, disaster management, Internet censorship, Antarctic exploration, asteroid impacts, cricket history and road safety.

“I seem to have outgrown the neat label of science writer,” says Nalaka. “Indeed, the very title of my column suggests how I sit at the intersection (or confluence) of science, development, mass media and information society.  From that point, I explore tensions between modernity and tradition — and ask more questions than I can easily answer!”

In his quest for clarity and reason, Nalaka talks to researchers, activists and officials. He also draws on his many experiences and global travels as a journalist, TV producer and development communicator.

He has twice won the Science Writer of the Year award (in English) from the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS). The University of Sri Jayawardenapura recently presented him a Vidyodaya Literary Award for the best newspaper column of 2012, for his first collection of Ravaya columns.

The 340-page book is priced at Rs. 550. It will be available from leading bookstores, and at special discounts from the Ravaya booth during the Colombo Book Fair.