In the time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed, I have written a great deal. Thirteen books have been sent to press, and thirteen have been published, though the first of the latter had gone to press before the time of coronavirus and the last of the former is still with the printer. With my predilection for statistics, I am happy to say that this means one book has been published for every 77 days since coronavirus raised its head – or slightly fewer, to be precise, for 1001 days and nights finish tomorrow.

Four of the thirteen published books are about my travels, South Asia first in 2020 and then the Mediterranean in 2021, with Latin America and Africa and exotic destinations in Asia covered in the next two books.

The first book that was published was an expanded version of Servants, the original having won the Gratiaen Prize way back in 1996. It was a good thing this was now readily available, for Sabaragamuwa University prescribed it for its MA course and I had to teach it, which proved more fun than I had anticipated.

Godage also published earlier this year a new edition of my Handbook of English Grammar, which had been a mainstay of my work in the nineties. When I began teaching for the MA I realized how neglected grammar was, and I prescribed the book which was available with Godage, for Cambridge University Press in India had suppled a couple of years earlier to them whatever copies they had left, for use on the Diploma in English and Education I had commenced when I chaired the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission.

Then there were two books of memoirs, both of which came out in 2020. One was an account of my friendship with my aunt Ena de Silva, much of it about our travels together, but I also covered happy times at her house in Aluvihare. The second was a set of memoirs, when I collected essays I had contributed to Ceylon Today on interesting Sri Lankans I had known. I wrote about three each of different categories, diplomats and civil servants and politicians and chairs of the Civil Rights Movement, poets and British Council personnel and what I termed chatelaines (including Ena) and international figures (Lakshman Kadirgamar and Geoffrey Bawa and Tarzie Vittachi)

Also springing from a Ceylon Today column was a political biography of J R Jayewardene, which I believe was much needed. There has been no proper analysis since his death of his corrosive impact on Sri Lankan politics, and this seems the more essential now when there is grave danger of his explosive mix of hypocrisy and authoritarianism being repeated.

Two more books arose from my regular Ceylon Today columns, one about initiatives I had embarked on in English Education at different levels, another about work in Geneva where, under Dayan Jayatilleka’s leadership Sri Lanka managed to stave off the West which was trying to stop us gaining a military victory over the Tigers.

Finally there were two self indulgent books, called Places where I read and Places where they sang. The first was about particular books I had read in particular places during my childhood and while I was at university. The second covered musical performances I had seen over the years, much of it during university days, but I then also recorded operas I had been to in odd places during my travels over the years. Putting these two books together was a great joy, for they brought back fond memories. And I was delighted when the people who have read them remarked on how interesting they were.

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