What first got you into writing? And how old were you at the time?
Sesame Street and a few crayons.
Five and a half, if I recall.
Talk to me a little bit about your background
I was a slave in my previous birth. And a slave owner in the one before that. Beyond that my memory gets hazy.
Talk to me a little about your early publications.
Thankfully, I wasn’t dumb enough to publish my early writings. Or my current ones. Not everything that is typed needs to be printed.
Talk to a little about your first book.
It’s a detective story about a dying sportswriter tracking down Sri Lanka’s greatest ever cricketer. It’s about genius, fathers and sons, conspiracies, legacies, left-arm spin, arrack and bad luck. It features a 6-fingered coach, a midget in a bunker and a lot of drunk old men. Most of it is true.
Talk to me a little about the thought process that went into that first book.
In ’87 I thought I might write a book.
In ’97 I thought I might write one about cricket.
In ’07 I thought I might start writing.
And in ’17 I thought I might stop answering questions on it.
What was it like when your book got so much fame and won so many awards?
It was very nice. Got to spend a few years travelling, meeting writers and procrastinating.
What was your experience of the 1983 riots?
I was 8, so played endless games of monopoly with my cousins while the city burned. Taught me everything I needed to know about curfew, capitalism, bullying and living in a Colombo bubble.
You’re a musician as well am I correct? Talk to me a little about your music.
You are correct. My music sounds like Radiohead, Mozart, The Beatles and Miles Davis. That’s until I pick up the instrument.
Why did you decide to translate the book into Sinhala? And what was the response that you received after it was translated?
The book was originally written by Dileepa Abeysekera in Sinhala in 2014. I just happened to translate it to English five years earlier.
Talk to me a little about your debut novel ‘The Painter’.
It wasn’t very good.
Have you published any other of your work after ‘Chinaman’?
Nope. I’m a one-hit wonder like JD Salinger and Vanilla Ice.
What has your life been like after Chinaman came out?
Long periods of boredom interspersed with short bursts of terror.
Do you have any new work in the making?
Yep. A short story collection, a novel, a toddler and a baby.