In Sri Lanka, the title "Sahithya Rathna"―“Jewel of Literature”―has been awarded to scholar and writer Yasmine Gooneratne, in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the fields of university education, creative writing and literary criticism.
Professor Gooneratne taught English literature at Macquarie University, where she was also the Founding Director of the Postcolonial Literature and Language Research Centre. She has published and edited more than 25 books, including English Literature in Ceylon, 1815–1878, a pioneering study of the history of English literature in Sri Lanka. In 2001 she was a recipient of India’s Raja Rao Award for her outstanding contributions to the literature of the South Asian Diaspora. In 1990 became an Officer of of the Order of Australia for contributions to literature and education, and was invited to be the inaugural Patron of the Jane Austen Society of Australia.
In spite of her long absence from Sri Lanka she acknowledges with fondness ‘the good fortune to have been born in Sri Lanka and to grow up and be educated there at a golden period of the island’s cultural life’.
The citation for the Sahithya Ratna Lifetime Achievement Award was delivered on 14 September in the presence of His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.