Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Madol Duwa by Martin Wickremesinghe

Its perhaps strange but true that I only read the famous Madol Duwa a few days ago. Written by Martin Wickremesinghe, who is dubbed as the father of the Sinhala novel, I had heard about the novel for ages but was not inspired to read it. Charges that it is a blatant copy of Tom Sawyer and Huckelberry Finn perhaps dissuaded me from doing so. In any case my Sinhala is so bad, that I needed an English translation and so it was a happy day when a friend lent me her copy of the book. The book was translated by the notable Ashley Halpe, so one warm afternoon I settled down to read the slim book.
I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps, it is similar to Mark Twain’s books but Wickremesinghe has done an excellent job in Sri Lankanising the story.
So in brief: a young boy and his servant boy Jinna end up on an island having run away from his father and stepmother. There they learn to live on their own, battle various intruders, and eventually become successful businessman selling vegetables in the area. Eventually Upali, the young hero, is discovered and goes back to his village and father to be welcomed with open arms.
I admired Wickremesinghe’s ability to hold the reader captive with interest. His insertion of Sri Lankan flora and fauna made it familiar and recognizable identifying with the Sri Lankan reader. My one criticism is the translation. I would have expected far more from Professor Halpe and instead was quite disappointed at the almost shoddy job that was done. It is my heartiest wish that Wickeremesinghe’s work would be translated at an international standard and made available to the non-Sinhala reader.


  1. I remember reading this Oh So Long Ago!!
    I really enjoyed the book the one time I read it as a kid... was pretty exciting back then.

  2. wow.... what a great book. I read it long time ago. It would be fun to read it again.
    I can remember when we were in Year 5 for some weird reason about 75% of the students in our grade had "Madol Doova" in their backpacks. I mean each and everyday we bring it to school and would read a chapter here and there... lol :-)

  3. kinda reassuring that this book was a favourite. I can't think of another Sri Lankan author who would be the equivalent amongst the kids of today. Can either of you think of any Sri Lankan who writes for children and is loved by them. I am thinking of the equivalent of an Enid Blyton or a JK Rowling.

  4. Acctual a nice book It helps to revive our mind to the past and the thinking of the children

    Sandun Anuradhapura

  5. i want to know what happenend after when their boat broke and went to another island

    1. They was Cultivate some Fruits and they had a dog Called "Dhadoriya". they had a adventurer life was there.. it's so awesome. wish if i can meet that kind of adventures in my life..
      thanks to martin wickkramisinghe. Man who taken to us amazing paradise.

  6. i dont know sinhala but i had 2 learn 4 skul

  7. it is one of the famous book of ours who now
    in 40 s.our childhood dreams were like this

  8. i finished reading the book(English Version) today....as a foreigner i'm very much curious to know whether the story is true or not. But the main attraction to the story was the "jinna" character, how he's been loyal friend. Wish i would know more about these characters. To be honest, wish i could meet them personaly. but i dont know if they are alive or not.

  9. It,s beautiful story......IT IS FANTASTIC BOOK.