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Shehan Karunatilaka is a Sri Lankan writer most notable for his book Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew.

Shehan Karunatilaka
Shehan Karunatilaka - Jaipur.jpg
BornColombo, Sri Lanka
OccupationWriter, Creative Director
NationalitySri Lankan
Period2000 to present
SubjectSri Lankan society
Notable worksChinaman



Shehan Karunatilaka was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and currently resides in Singapore. He was educated at S. Thomas' Preparatory School, Kollupitiya, Sri Lanka, and Massey University, New Zealand. An advertising copywriter by trade, Karunatilaka also writes features for The Guardian, Newsweek, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Wisden, The Cricketer and the Economic Times. He has played bass with Sri Lankan bands Independent Square and Powercut Circus.[1]


His debut novel, The Painter, was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize in 2000, but was never published.

His second novel, Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, uses cricket as a device to write about Sri Lankan society.[2] It tells the story of an alcoholic journalist's quest to track down a missing cricketer of the 1980s. The book was critically hailed, winning many awards. On 21 May 2012, Chinaman was announced as the regional winner for Asia of the Commonwealth Book Prize[3] and went on to win the overall Commonwealth Book Prize announced on 8 June.[4] It also won the 2012 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the 2008 Gratiaen Prize.[1] Published to great acclaim in India and the UK, the book was one of the Waterstones 11 selected by British bookseller Waterstones as one of the top debuts of 2011 and was also shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Novel Prize.

In 2015, a Sinhala language translation by Dileepa Abeysekara was published as Chinaman: Pradeep Mathewge Cricket Pravadaya.[5]

Awards and honoursEdit


  1. ^ a b The Sunday Times, "Shehan’s winning googly", accessed 12 February 2011.
  2. ^ Hindustan Times, "Spin on a yarn" Archived 19 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine accessed 12 February 2011.
  3. ^ Commonwealth Book Prize & Commonwealth Short Story Prize Regional Winners 2012. Archived 25 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Alison Flood (8 June 2012). "Shehan Karunatilaka wins 2012 Commonwealth book prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  5. ^ Diogenes Publishing.