Anula de Silva, a renowned veteran writer, translator, and journalist, has made significant contributions to the world of literature for over half a century. Her remarkable career began in 1964 when she started writing for the Mihira newspaper, a publication by Lake House. Since then, she has worked for eight different newspapers, leaving an indelible mark on the field of journalism and editing.
Throughout her illustrious career, Anula de Silva has published more than 100 books, including several popular novels and translations. Her novels, such as “Ahas Maligä,” “Unmaththakayö,” “Manjeshwaree,” “Maha Muhuda Mamai,” have captivated readers with their compelling storytelling. Additionally, her translations, such as “Deviyangë Adawiya” (Not without my Daughter), “Thunweni Birinda” (Third Wife), “Pilikä Wättuwa” (Cancer Word), “Tibbatha Diyaniya” (Daughter of Tibbatha), and “Thittha Köpi,” have brought international literary works to Sinhala readers.
In her latest literary endeavors, Anula de Silva is set to launch two translations, a novel, and a young adult novel at the annual International Book Fair at the BMICH in September. The translations, “Hiri Othap” and “Adaraneeya Wiyaruwa,” offer Sinhala readers the opportunity to delve into works originally written by Sydney Sheldon and Kamala Markandaya, respectively. Meanwhile, her novel “Api Mahalu Wayasë” explores the complex love affair between a Sri Lankan woman and a foreign lecturer, despite their significant age difference. Lastly, her young adult novel “Histhenala Sita” delves into the life of an orphan girl from a children’s home.
When asked about her art of fiction and the process behind her writing, Anula de Silva shared insightful details. She explained that while her novels are often inspired by people she knows, the characters are not direct representations of them. She develops her protagonists based on both known and unknown facts about individuals, infusing them with courage. Each of her female protagonists embodies resilience and bravery, as seen in her latest novel “Api Mahalu Wayasë.” Additionally, she conducts thorough research to add depth and authenticity to her fictitious characters. For instance, when writing “Manjeshwaree,” she extensively researched a real love affair between a Sri Lankan naval officer and a Hindu girl from India.
Anula de Silva also discussed her writing process, emphasizing that while she plans the roles of her characters beforehand, the narrative remains fluid and adaptable to the needs of each moment. During the editing process, the storyline may undergo revisions. However, major corrections are rare in her current work. She dedicates at least one year to complete a novel, though the time frame has become somewhat quicker over the years. When it comes to translations, the process is swifter without the need for extensive revision.
Interestingly, Anula de Silva prefers to write by hand rather than directly on a computer. She believes that writing by hand allows her imagination to flow freely without disruption. Comparing it to artwork, she notes that hand-drawn illustrations possess a distinct quality that sets them apart from computer-generated ones. In writing, she prioritizes infusing her words with emotions and feelings, as she believes that art cannot be created without them.
Throughout her career, Anula de Silva has drawn inspiration from notable writers such as Martin Wickramasinghe and Anton Chekov. While she greatly admired Wickramasinghe’s works during her school days, Chekov had a profound influence on her as a Russian writer. However, she emphasizes that foreign writers have not directly impacted her own writing style.
Anula de Silva’s talent as a translator has garnered praise from readers who often find her translations as enjoyable as original works. Her ability to convey emotional depth and maintain the creative essence of the original text stems from her inherent talent and creativity.
The journey of this prolific writer has not been without challenges. In 2004, the devastating tsunami destroyed all her books and paper cuttings. Despite this tragic loss, Anula de Silva managed to save her manuscripts by quickly wrapping them in a tablecloth and moving them to higher ground. While over 3,000 books were lost in the disaster, the manuscripts remained intact.
Anula de Silva’s contributions to literature have left an indelible mark on the literary landscape of Sri Lanka. Her captivating storytelling, meticulous research, and dedication to preserving emotions in her work have garnered respect from readers and fellow writers alike. As she continues to launch new literary endeavors and inspire future generations of writers, Anula de Silva’s legacy as a veteran writer, translator, and journalist remains secure.