With effects rippling into the present, the Sri Lankan Civil War, lasting more than 25 years from the early 1980s until 2009, has found an important place in our current cultural canon. Join lawyer and novelist of Song of the Sun God, Shankari Chandran, author of Booker Prize–winning The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka and Anandavalli as they discuss the island nation’s turbulent recent history and its influence in their storytelling. In conversation with prize-winning author Roanna Gonsalves.

Supported by UNSW Sydney.

Anandavalli (Australian)


Anandavalli is a veteran classical Indian dancer with an international career spanning over 45 years. Born in Sri Lanka, she performed as a young prodigy across India and Europe under the tutelage of dance luminaries from both the East and the West.

Migrating to Australia in 1985 she founded Lingalayam Dance Academy in 1987 and the Company in 1996. Lingalayam’s work incorporates dance, live music, text and design. Anandavalli is deeply committed to advancing the course of Indian dance as well as the broader scope of artistic development in Australia. She has presented guest lectures, workshops and taught dance and movement at the University of NSW, the University of Sydney and at the Australian College of Physical Education. From 1999-2003 Anandavalli sat on the Dance Board of the then NSW Ministry for the Arts. Anandavalli continues exploring new directions and developments collaborating with some of the finest national and international artists.

Shehan Karunatilaka (International)

Shehan Karunatilaka

Shehan Karunatilaka is the winner of the 2022 Booker Prize for his second novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. He is also the author of the award-winning Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, which was selected for the UK's 2022 Big Jubilee Read selection. Born in Sri Lanka, he studied in New Zealand and has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam and Singapore. He lives in Colombo with his family, his guitars and his unfinished stories.

Shankari Chandran (Australian)

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran is an Australian Tamil lawyer and the author of Song of the Sun God (2022), Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens (2022) and The Barrier (2017). Song of the Sun God was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for Sri Lanka's Fairway National Literary Award. Her short stories have been published in the Sweatshop anthologies, Another Australia and Sweatshop Women (Vol 2). Shankari is the deputy chair of Writing NSW.

Roanna Gonsalves (Australian)

Roanna Gonsalves

Roanna Gonsalves is the award-winning author of The Permanent Resident. Her series of radio documentaries, On the tip of a billion tongues, commissioned and broadcast by Earshot, ABC RN, is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. She received The Bridge Awards' inaugural Varuna – Cove Park Writing Residency 2019 (Scotland). She works as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at UNSW, Sydney.