Poetry, Fiction, Literary Criticism, Life-Writing, Research

Yasmine Gooneratne donated her papers to the National Library of Australia on 23 December 1996, and the following account of her literary career is based on biodata made available by the NLA. Born in Sri Lanka, she  was educated at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, graduating with a First Class Honours degree in English; and read for a doctoral degree at Cambridge, writing her dissertation on the development of English literature and letters in Sri Lanka.   She taught English literature at Peradeniya for 10 years  before becoming a resident in Australia in 1972. Holder of a personal chair of English at Macquarie University,  New South Wales, she  was the foundation Director of Macquarie’s Post-Colonial Literatures and Language Research Centre, 1988-93. She has been a visiting professor or expert specialist at, among places here and overseas, Edith Cowan University, University of Michigan, Ann Abor, and University of the South Pacific. She is a university professor, literary critic, editor, bibliographer, novelist, essayist and poet.

Gooneratne’s published  books include works on literary criticism, edited anthologies of Asian poetry and prose, four  novels and several volumes of poetry. Her books include her family history Relative Merits : A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka (1986). Her first novel, A Change of Skies (1991) won the 1992 Marjorie Barnard Literary Award for Fiction and was short listed for the 1991 Commonwealth Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The Pleasures of Conquest (1995) was short listed for the 1996 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her third, The Sweet and Simple Kind (2007) was shortlisted for the  Dublin IMPAC International Prize for Fiction.  She has chosen to publish and distribute her fourth novel, Rannygazoo; Or, The Case of the Missing Manuscript online, as an Open Access work of fiction.  In addition Gooneratne has contributed literary articles, poetry and other writings to a wide range of journals and anthologies.

In 1990 she was invited to become the Patron of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, and  was awarded the  Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to literature and education. In 1991 she was awarded a Writer’s Fellowship by the NSW Ministry for the Arts. This involved residence at Varuna Writers’ Centre where she worked on the final draft of A Change of Skies. She presently directs The Guardian Angels, a literary editing service based in Sri Lanka,

Gooneratne’s work has been presented on television and radio and at public readings in Australia, India, Britain, United States, Canada, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Her achievements are noted in Who’s Who of Australia 1997, and in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature.


Word, Bird, Motif. 53 Poems. Privately published. Kandy 1970 .

The Lizard’s Cry & Other Poems. Privately published. Kandy 1972.

(ed) Poems  from India, Sri  Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. Heinemann Educational Books, Hong Kong. 1979.

6,000 Ft Death Dive. Poems. Privately published. Colombo 1981.

Celebrations  and Departures. Selected Poems  1951 – 1991. Wild & Woolley Pty Ltd,
Sydney   1991.

Fiction (Novels & Stories)

‘A Pot of “Rice”’. In New Ceylon Writing 1970 (1970).

‘For Love or Money’. In New Ceylon Writing 1979 (under pseudonym of Tilak Gunawardena). 1970.

(ed) Stories From Sri Lanka. Heinemann  Educational  Books, Hong Kong. 1979.

‘How Barry Changed His Image’. In  Meanjin, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Autumn 1989). Later  became Chapter 15 of A Change of Skies. Novel 1991.

‘His Neighbour’s Wife’. In Channels, Vol..2, No. 1(1991).
A Change of Skies. Novel. Picador Australia 1991.

‘’I the East My Pleasure Lies’ read by Richard Tlllinghast on Michigan Radio 1992, later became part of  The Pleasures of Conquest. Novel.1995.

The Pleasures of Conquest. Novel.  Penguin India.   1995.

‘A Postcolonial Love Story’. In Span (1991-1923). Later became part of  The Pleasures of Conquest.  Novel.  Penguin India.   1995.

‘In Herbert’s Study’. In C..Lokuge (ed) CRNLE Journal (2000).

‘A City Under Siege’. In Options (2001).

Masterpiece and Other Stories. Indialog Publications. New Delhi 2002.

‘Falling From Grace’, ‘The Facts of Life’, ‘Vesak Lanterns’, ‘The Chauffeur’, ‘Tsunami’s Confession’. In Tsunami (a novel in progress,  these stories later became part of  The Sweet and Simple Kind. Novel. Perera Hussein Publishing. Colombo. 2006.

Rannygazoo: Or, The Case of the Missing Manuscript. Novel. Open Access, self- published online, July 2015.

Literary Criticism (Reviews, review articles, books)

English  Literature  in  Ceylon  1815 – 1878.  Tisara Publishers, Dehiwela, 1968.

Jane Austen.  Cambridge University Press. 1970.

Alexander  Pope. Cambridge University  Press 1976.

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Longman York Press. 1980.

Silence, Exile  and Cunning: The Fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Orient Longman Ltd., New Delhi. 1983.

Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s English Writing 1948 – 2000. Women’s Education & Research Centre, Colombo. 2002

(ed) Leonard Woolf, The Village in the Jungle (1913).  Definitive edition.  The Edwin Mellen  Press, UK. 2004.

‘Snobbery With Violence’. Review of  P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley. Faber & Faber 2011(2011)

 Life-Writing (Biography, Autobiography, Social/Cultural Studies)

Relative   Merits: A  Personal  Memoir   of  the  Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka. C.Hurst & Co.,London;  St Martin’s Press, New York.  1986.

This Inscrutable Englishman: Sir John D’Oyly, Baronet 1774 – 1824 (co-authored with Dr  Brendon Gooneratne). Cassell/Continuum, London & New York.1999.

‘The Writing Life’. Introduction to  Masterpiece and Other Stories. Indialog Publications. New Delhi 2002, pp. 9-16.

Essays (a selection that includes contributions to books and journals)

‘Leonard Woolf’s “Waste Land”: The Village in the Jungle’, in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, VIII, 1, pp. 22 – 34. (1972).

Diverse  Inheritance: A  Personal  Perspective on  Commonwealth Literature. Literary essays. The  Centre for Research in the New Literatures in English, Flinders University. 1980.

`A Novelist at Work: the manuscript of Leonard Woolf’s The Village in the Jungle’. In the  Journal of Commonwealth Literature XVIII, 1, pp. 91 – 103. (1983).
‘Leonard Woolf’s Novel of Sri Lanka:  The Village in the Jungle’ in H. Antor and K. Stierstorfer, eds., English Literatures in International Contexts. C.Winter, Universitatsverlag Heidelberg, pp. 397 – 402.(2004)

Prizes, Honours, Awards

Order of Australia (AO). For services to literature and education. Government of Australia. 1990.

Marjorie Barnard Literary Prize for Fiction. 1991. Awarded for A Change of Skies.

3M 1992 Talking Book Award of the Royal Blind Society.   Awarded for A Change of Skies.

The  Commonwealth Fiction Prize. Novels shortlisted: A Change of Skies  (1991), The Pleasures of Conquest  (1995),     The Sweet and Simple Kind ( 2007).

Dublin IMPAC International Prize for Fiction.  Shortlisted  novel:The Sweet and Simple Kind (2007)

2012 Premchand Fellowship, awarded by the Sahitya Akademi of India

Sahityaratna (‘Jewel of Literature’) Award of Sri Lanka.

The Samvad India Foundation’s Raja Rao Award.