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A Portrait of K K Saman Kumara

K K Saman Kumara, 'Sarpaya' - Genre defining magical impressionist Sri Lankan Novelist, Short Story Writer and Poet

Hardly anyone has addressed him by his real name in the last forty years.
The moniker itself is not particularly a nice one; at least on the face value!
For those who are unaware of the origin story, the nickname ‘Sarpaya’ could subconsciously translate to a semblance or a quirk of the man – or perhaps even the cogent pungency of his literary sting!
‘Controversial’ is the most frequently used adjective when describing him by the majority of the Sri Lankan media.

It was a short story he wrote nearly 40 yrs ago, titled ‘In combat with a serpent’ that gave him the moniker. As an absolute novice and a raw youngster he used ‘stream of consciousness’ in conjunction with ‘magical realism’ and packaged them within a transgressive context to give us one of the best pieces of writing in Sinhala literature.

Today, K K Saman Kumara is a semi recluse; apparently giving the finishing touches to a novel he has been compiling over the last five years.

I shot this image in April 2023 at his small humble abode in Padukka when I visited Sir Lanka.

For a larger version of the portrait and to enlarge to full screen, please visit people gallery.
A blog about him, with some of his work is available at


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