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By Paul Flessland, pflessland@forumcomm.com, Published March 26 2013

MSUM professor unveils memoirs in native country

MOORHEAD – A retired Minnesota State University Moorhead journalism professor will return to his native Sri Lanka to debut his written memoirs.

Shelton Gunaratne, 73, expects to present his memoirs on Thursday at the University of Kelaniya, near Colombo. He last visited his home country 13 years ago.

The memoirs are spread out over three books, each focusing on a different part of Gunaratne’s life.

Much of the content comes from his daily journals over the past 35 years.

“I just wrote down everything that happened every day,” he said.

The first book, titled “Village Life in the Forties,” tells about his experiences growing up in a small village in the British colony of Ceylon, what is now independent Sri Lanka.

“It’s an anthropology, really,” he said.

Much of the book focuses on the effects World War II had on his village.

Gunaratne said the first book is his favorite of the three. He wrote the entries as short stories.

The second and third books, titled “From Village Boy to Global Citizen” (volumes 1 and 2), give an autobiographical account of his journalistic life and world travels.

After earning a degree in economics at the University of Ceylon in Sri Lanka in 1962, Gunaratne came to the United States, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

From there, he taught in Australia and Malaysia before returning to the United States to teach at the University of Florida and Central Missouri State University. He started teaching at MSUM in 1985.

Gunaratne retired in 2007 after teaching mass communication at MSUM for 22 years. Since retirement, he has spent time concentrating on finishing his memoirs.

The three books were published in the United States late last year and are available on Amazon.com.

Gunaratne left for Sri Lanka last week and plans to return to Moorhead in mid-April.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Paul Flessland at (701) 241-5502