with Olivier Weber and Ashok Ferrey
June 29, 7 PM
How does insularity affect literature? Delve into an online discussion around this topic with Olivier Weber and Ashok Ferrey, confronting both the French and Sri Lankan perspective on writing and insular perspectives, on June 29th, 2021, at 7 PM (Colombo time).
Olivier Weber is a writer, reporter, diplomat and former war correspondent, winner of the Albert Londres Prize. After a few years in teaching and financial analysis, he entered journalism and left for California in the footsteps of Jack London. He became a war correspondent in Africa and the Middle East for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Libération, and also carried out investigations for Les Nouvelles littéraires and Globe. He was then appointed a senior reporter for Le Point magazine. He has covered several conflicts, including the war in Afghanistan, the Tian An Men massacre in Beijing, Kurdistan, Eritrea, Cambodia, South Sudan, Iraq, the Western Sahara, Chechnya, Algeria and the insurrections in Burma. A specialist in guerrilla warfare, having worked with some twenty armed movements, he has been awarded the Albert Londres Prize, the Lazareff Prize, the Mumm Prize, the Joseph Kessel Prize, the Adventure Prize, the Special Prize of the War Correspondents, the Adventure Trophy and was a laureate of the Fondation Journaliste Demain.
Author of numerous books, he has directed and written a dozen documentaries for Arte, Canal Plus, Voyage, France 5 and France 2, including "L'Opium des Taliban" and "Sur la Route du Gange", which have won several international awards. His documentary, "Gold Fever", on deforestation and trafficking in the Amazon, was released in 2008. His novels and travel stories have been translated into a dozen languages.
In 2005, he was appointed lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris where he inaugurated the course "Geopolitics of drugs and guerrillas". Director of the collection "Écrivains Voyageurs", his essay "Kessel, the eternal nomad" (2006) received in 2017 the European and Mediterranean Book Prize. He was appointed Ambassador of France in charge of human trafficking from 2008 to 2013.
Best-selling Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferrey read pure mathematics at Oxford University, subsequently forging a career as a builder in London before becoming a writer. Author of seven books, his first two books of short stories – ‘Colpetty People’ (2005) and ‘The Good Little Ceylonese Girl’ (2006), were both shortlisted for Sri Lanka’s Gratiaen Award. His 3rd book a novel ‘Serendipity’ (2009), part satire – part thriller, was shortlisted for Sri Lanka’s State Literary Award. ‘The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons’ (2015) was nominated for the 2015 Gratiaen Prize. This satirical fable, which confronts Eastern tradition and European modernity, is his first novel translated into French, published by Mercure de France. Only ten novels or books of fiction from Sri Lanka have so far been translated into French, mostly from English. "The unmarrageable man" is his latest novel, published in 2021 by Penguin Random House India.
Back in Colombo, Ferrey continues to design and build houses. He is also a guest lecturer at the Colombo School of Architecture and host of the programme ‘Art and Architecture with Ashok’, on national television. In his spare time Ashok is a personal trainer.