Shehan Karunatilaka

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


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 GuardianNewsweekNational GeographicRolling StoneWisdenThe Cricketer and the Economic Times. He has played bass with Sri Lankan bands Independent Square and Powercut Circus.


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 and went on to win the overall Commonwealth Book Prize announced on 8 June. It also won the 2012 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the 2008 Gratiaen Prize. 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

Awards and honours

  • 2012: Commonwealth Book Prize, overall winner, Chinaman
  • 2012: DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, overall winner, Chinaman
  • 2008: Gratiaen Prize, winner, Chinaman
  • 2000: Gratiaen Prize, shortlist, The Painter

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