Sri Lanka Guardian has sent a media query to Shehan Karunathilake but he is yet to respond. However, on behalf of the Sri Lankan origins booker prize winner, someone named “SK” has shared a message on social media stating that, “a claim has been made by a journalist in Colombo that the plot of my novel, ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ was ‘stolen’ from a 56-page untitled ‘novella’ that he sent to me in 2011 seeking an author’s endorsement. His claim is both baseless and insulting.” This statement clearly accepted that the accused has received a manuscript from the author, Rajpal Abeynayake, and he has kept it for years.
“I have shared his email and the ‘novella’ manuscript with my lawyers who confirm that the claim of plagiarism is entirely unfounded and that the allegations made are libellous. I have also shared the ‘novella’ with my publishers – who confirm the texts bear no comparison whatsoever with my novel – there are no shared plots, characters nor text – and with the Booker Prize Foundation, so that they may be assured the claims are unfounded,” SK defended the case against Booker Prize Winner.
“We are glad to know that SK still keeps the original manuscript safe and he has given copies of the manuscript not only to his lawyers and publisher but also to Booker Prize Foundation,” said one of the senior lawyers in Colombo. Thus, Sri Lanka Guardian‘s inquiry to the Booker Prize Foundation a few days ago has yet to receive a response.
“It is sad and disappointing that this statement has to be made. This should be a celebratory moment for Sri Lanka and its writers,” SK in his post attempted to earn sympathy.
Meanwhile, responding to the SK’s reaction, Rajpal Abeynayake says that personal insults unfounded in reality are ‘beneath this process’ and that he will not stoop so low as to respond to vicious and obnoxious third parties forwarding statements for some sort of vicarious titillation.
About the statement issued by SK so-called, presumably Shehan Karunatilaka, he says ‘let’s wait and see about the veracity of that, now that he has admitted receiving my manuscript’. Not only does he have my manuscript, but he also has it close at hand and handy to send to others too, says Rajpal.
The SL Guardian report says the accused Booker Prize winner was asked for a response to the accusation and the SL Guardian report actually discusses the Booker winner’s response. But nowhere in its report does the SL Guardian provide readers concrete examples of the alleged plagiarisation – either texts, or plot narrative or anything. Guardian does not even inform the readers whether it asked accuser Rajpal Abeynaike for such concrete samples and why Abeynaike failed to provide such evidence. For a supposed News website to report a sensational theft but not say EXACTLY WHAT WAS STOLEN is very substandard journalism indeed. Only a yellow journalism outlet will carry much adjectives and labelling by someone (name calling) against another person but not provide even a single sample of an action that person allegedly perpetrated. Disgustingly unprofessional and socially harmful behaviour by the SL Guardian.
Editor’s Note: The stories are based on the narratives of the aggrieved party and the accused. These are not investigative reports by our editorial members. The aggrieved party clearly reaffirmed that he has initiated legal action. Media houses are not courtrooms, journalists are not judges.