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Event Details

Sri Lankan Stories

26 May 2023
7.30pm – 8.30pm AEST
The ARA Stage, Bay 20, Carriageworks
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plain orange image with the words 'sri lankan stories' written on it

Shankari Chandran | Shehan Karunatilaka | S. Shakthidharan | Roanna Gonsalves

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, Western Sydney composer and The Jungle and the Sea and Counting and Cracking playwright S. Shakthidharan as they discuss the island nation’s turbulent recent history and its influence in their storytelling. In conversation with prize-winning author Roanna Gonsalves.  

This event is presented by the Sydney Writers' Festival and supported by UNSW Sydney. 


UNSW Sydney is the exclusive university sponsor and proud Premier Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Featuring UNSW academics and researchers on Sydney Writers’ Festival stages, and events at the UNSW Kensington Campus, this partnership brings together a shared vision of creativity, curiosity and thought leadership. 


Adult – $35*
Concession – $25*
*Plus booking fees

This event will take place live at Carriageworks. For all venue and visitor safety information, please visit Sydney Writers' Festival.


Wheelchair Access
All Festival venues are accessible and have wheelchair and level access. To book accessible seats for events at Carriageworks, please contact the Sydney Writers' Festival Box Office on (02) 9256 4200 or email 

Accessible Parking
Accessible parking is available at Carriageworks. Please call (02) 8571 9099 for Carriageworks parking information.


Carriageworks is located at 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh. This is a 10-minute walk from Redfern Station, City Road bus stops and Macdonaldtown Station. Catching public transport is strongly recommended as residential parking in the area is strictly limited, and the Sydney Writers' Festival offers a shuttle bus services from Redfern Station at selected times. For more information on transport, visit or visit



Sydney Writers' Festival
For all event enquiries, please call the Sydney Writers' Festival on 02 9256 4200 or email

UNSW Centre for Ideas
For all other enquiries, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

National Relay Service
The Centre for Ideas and Sydney Writers' Festival are happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for the applicable organisations phone number (listed above). Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for applicable organisations phone number (listed above). Internet relay users, visit, then ask for applicable organisations phone number (listed above). 

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran is an Australian Tamil lawyer and the author of Safe Haven (2024), Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens (Miles Franklin Literary Award 2023), Song of the Sun God (2022), The Barrier (2017) and Unfinished Business (2024, Audible). She is the deputy chair of Writing NSW and lives in Sydney with her husband and four children.

Shehan Karunatilaka

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. 

S. Shakthidharan

S. Shakthidharan

S. Shakthidharan Shakthi is a Western Sydney storyteller with Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. His debut play, Counting and Cracking, completed a sold out season at the 2019 Sydney Festival and won seven Helpmann Awards, with Belvoir. His most recent play The Jungle and the Sea again with Belvoir received rave reviews and had a profound impact on the Sri Lankan community. It won four Sydney Theatre Awards in January 2023, including Best Mainstage Production. 

Roanna Gonsalves

Roanna Gonsalves

Roanna Gonsalves is an award-winning writer and educator with an interdisciplinary practice. She is the author of the critically acclaimed collection of short fiction, The Permanent Resident. Her series of radio documentaries about contemporary India, On the tip of a billion tongues, and her social-satirical radio essay Doosra: The life and times of an Indian student in Australia were commissioned and broadcast by ABC RN. She works as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at UNSW Sydney.

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