Glimpse ‘Village Life’ through Lens of Sri Lankan Expat

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New memoir details experiences growing up in 1940s British Ceylon.

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I wrote this book in the mid 1960s to immortalize the colorful characters from the village of my birth.

“Village Life in the Forties: Memories of a Lankan Expatriate” (published by iUniverse), a new book by former journalism professor Dr. Shelton A. Gunaratne, recollects the eccentricities of small village life in British Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka.

Equal parts touching memoir, rousing comedy and serious study of human nature, “Village Life” precisely depicts his small village as it embraces old-world traditions and discovers modern opportunities.

While working as a journalist for the Ceylon Daily News as a young man, Gunaratne originally wrote the series of 26 autobiographical sketches targeted to westernized townspeople who belittled authentic village life.

“I wrote this book in the mid 1960s to immortalize the colorful characters from the village of my birth,” he says.

Gunaratne, a gifted storyteller whose skills he inherited from his mother, wrote the sketches in literary style while not deviating from fact.

“To maintain the charm and authenticity of rustic splendor, I identified all characters by their real nicknames – some hilarious, some derogatory, and some descriptive,” he says. “I took strenuous precautions not to associate any of the nicknames with legal names.”

After retiring from teaching in 2007, Gunaratne revisited his old stories and decided to reorganize them as a reflective memoir. Emphasizing the connection between Eastern and Western culture in the book – especially Buddhist philosophy- was vital, he says.    

“All stories in the book are interdependent, interconnected and interactive with one another.”

About the Author
Shelton A. Gunaratne, PhD, was a journalism professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He specialized in economics at the University of Ceylon and started his career as a journalist at the Ceylon Daily News. His publications include the “Dao of the Press” and the “Handbook of the Media in Asia.”

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