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Shehan Karunatilaka wins Commonwealth Book Prize

11th June 2012

Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka has won the Commonwealth Book Prize, part of the revamped Commonwealth Writers awards, for his debut novel Chinaman.

Karunatilaka beat off competition from a strong shortlist to scoop the GBP 10,000 prize, which is intended to find a wider readership for novels published across the Commonwealth.

The book, which tells the story of a retired sports journalist's efforts to track down a great cricketer called Pradeep Mathew, was praised by the judges for its originality and narrative scope.

'This fabulously enjoyable read will keep you entertained and rooting for the protagonist until the very end, while delivering startling truths about cricket and about Sri Lanka,' said Margaret Busby, chair of the panel.

'It's an insightful story about fact and gullibility, about world history, about friends and family, and it sets the standard high for the new Commonwealth Book Prize.'

The award was presented at the Hay Festival, alongside the Commonwealth Short Story prize, which was won by New Zealand writer Emma Martin for Two Girls in a Boat.

She received GBP 5,000 for the achievement, with judge Bernardine Evaristo describing the winning entry as having 'linguistic flair, originality, depth and daring'.

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