Nihal De Silva

Nihal De Silva (19?? – 28 May 2006) was a Sri Lankan novelist. He won the Gratiaen Prize for his novel The Road From Elephant Pass which was later made into a film. He also published “The Far Spent Day” and “The Ginirella Conspiracy“.

Early life

De Silva was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo and attended the University of Ceylon (now University of Peradeniya, Kandy). Later on he went into building his own water-purifying business supplying bottled mineral water. He lived in Colombo with his wife Shirlene and his two children, Shanik and Shamal.

De Silva was known for his interests in avifauna, evident in The Road from Elephant Pass and The Ginirella Conspiracy.

“Nihal was a stalwart of St. Joseph’s College, an avid golfer and a wildlife enthusiast. His keenness for wildlife are to be seen in the many books he wrote, some of which were award winning, amongst them being the ‘Gratien award’.”


He set off to being famous with the book ‘The Road From Elephant Pass’ at the age of 63 and it was published in 2003. The story revolves around a male and female protagonist, An ex- female LTTE(of Tamil origin), An army officer(of Sinhalese origin). A beautifully crafted story around a pair who were thought to be natural and initial enemies, they were able to overlook their differences and political stance to come together in order to overcome the hostilities between them and get safely to Colombo, protecting an explosive secret. This book sold over 3000 copies in its initial printing, forcing the publisher, Vijitha Yapa to print twice more. “Nihal de Silva won the State Literary Award for the Best Novel of 2003 and the Gratiaen Prize for 2003. The citation was as follows: “For its moving story, for its constant feel of real life, for its consistency of narrative momentum, for its descriptive power, for its dramatic use of dialogue to define social context, capture character psychology and trace the development of a relationship, for its convincing demonstration that resolution of conflict and reconciliation of differences are feasible through mutual experience and regard and last though not least, for its eminently civilized handling of the last degree of intimacy between a man and a woman, our choice for the 2003 Gratiaen Prize for creative writing in English is, unquestionably, ‘The Road From Elephant Pass’ by Nihal de Silva.” 

This book was followed by ‘The Far Spent Day’ based on political corruption. A young man of again Sinhala origin is pulled into the injustices of society, but he attempts to fight back when all forces attempt to destroy him.

‘The Ginirella Conspiracy’, his third novel is again an intriguing story about the Politicization and ragging in Sri Lankan Universities. Throughout these three books his love for birds, flora and fauna are very evident.


On 28 May 2006, Nihal De Silva was killed by a landmine explosion at the Wilpattu National Park.

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