Thisuri Wanniarachchi is a Sri Lankan author. She is known for her book Colombo Streets, which she began writing when she was fourteen years old and which won a 2009 State Literary Award. Wanniarachchi received her primary and secondary education at St Bridget’s Convent in Colombo, Sri Lanka and she went on to study at the British School in Colombo She received her BA in Political Science from Bennington College and is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy at the University of Colombo. She is President Maithripala Sirisena’s current Assistant Director of Sustainable Development and the youngest political appointee to serve in his administration.
Wanniarachchi was born on 25 September 1993 to Sri Lankan sociologist and author Malraji Wanniarachchi and Sri Lanka Army Maj. General Sunil Wanniarachchi. She grew up in Colombo during the time of the Sri Lankan Civil War. From pre school to middle school Wanniarachchi attended St. Bridget’s Convent and later moved to The British School in Colombo on a full scholarship.
Wanniarachchi is the author of two books Colombo Streets and The Terrorist’s Daughter. Wanniarachchi wrote Colombo Streets when she was fourteen years old. Colombo Streets is a story about how children belonging to different social classes experienced the Sri Lankan civil war. The book went on to be a local bestseller and made Wanniarachchi the youngest State Literary Award recipient.
The Terrorist’s Daughter, written by Wanniarachchi during her first year at Bennington College, was launched in Sri Lanka in August 2014. The Terrorist’s Daughter is a fictional love story, which according to The Nation (Sri Lanka), Wanniarachchi uses as a platform to discuss, criticize and analyse post- war Sri Lanka’s political spectrum.
Thisuri Wanniarachchi is an advocate for political and education reform in Sri Lanka. Wanniarachchi was praised for her bravery in speaking up against authoritarianism during the time of Rajapaksa administration. Her second novel The Terrorist’s Daughter which was launched just four months before the launch of the election campaign to defeat the Rajapaksa regime was crucial in creating awareness among youth about the level of elite capture prevalent in the country due to the authoritarianism of the incumbent regime. She campaigned for the common opposition candidate in Sri Lanka’s 2015 Presidential Election through her writing. Her open letter in response to Namal Rajapaksa’s article for the Colombo Telegraph became a viral sensation in Sri Lanka.
Wanniarachchi is also an advocate for education reform in Sri Lanka. Speaking as the youngest panelist at a discussion for young politicians held in Colombo in collaboration with the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wanniarachchi stressed on the need for education reform in Sri Lanka. She mentioned the need for improved inclusion of civic education that focuses on citizen ethics, consent and respect and conflict resolution in the Sri Lankan school curriculum in order to create sustainable solutions for the country’s prevailing high levels of corruption, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racial tension.
Dividing her time between university and Sri Lanka in 2014 Thisuri served as intern of the Ministry of Higher Education (Sri Lanka) and later in 2015 served as an Intern to the Presidential Secretariat during President Maithripala Sirisena’s first year in office.
Leading Sri Lankan political scientist Dayan Jayatilleka said Wanniarachchi’s The Terrorist’s Daughter is “one of the most important literary works in post-war Sri Lanka” and suggested that it is a “road map to reconciliation” and a “manifesto” for the Sri Lankan government. The Terrorist’s Daughter was nominated for the 2015 State Literary Award.
In 2014, the leading feminist movement Lean In featured Wanniarachchi’s story.
Notable fans of her writing include British pop artist Sam Smith who shares quotes from her writing on his social media accounts
Wanniarachchi’s received much criticism for her advocacy and writing on the abolition of the death penalty in Sri Lanka, equal rights to LGBTQ Sri Lankans, sex education reform by civil society and lobby groups that oppose her views.