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The Perfect Guide

Jul 30, 2011 3:07:27 PM - thesundayleader.lk

By Sumaya Samarasinghe

Galle Fort World Heritage Site. A Visitor’s Guide and Illustrated Walking Tour

It can fit in your handbag, be read while walking through the beautiful streets of the Galle Fort or as the authors say, even be enjoyed from the comfort of your chair.

Galle Fort World Heritage Site. A visitor’s Guide and Illustrated Walking Tour is not your regular guide book with mini summarised paragraphs to describe magical places. Those kinds of books are often left behind in planes at the end of a holiday or just thrown in some corner, eventually forgotten under a pile of dust. This is a little (and by that, don’t get me wrong, I am only referring to the size of the book) work of art with beautifully written and easily readable text accompanied by stunning photography. Speaking to The Sunday Leader Mark Thompson explained some of their stylistic choices: “The structure of the book is quite deliberate. Galle history is a fascinating story and the bestway to evoke that story and bring it to life is by writing in a narrative form. The narrative is split into very, manageable chapters each focussing on a different building or landmark and the layout is such that there is never too much writing on the page to take in.” During eight years, Steinberg spent his time photographing the Fort and his most stunning pieces were chosen to make up the book. The book has so far garnered positive reactions from both the Sri Lankan and foreign communities. When asked if they believed that being foreign could go against their credibility about writing a guide book on one of Sri Lanka’s most glorious World Heritage Sites, Steinberg shared his views with the Sunday Leader. “This is an age of globalisation. Take authors like Michael Ondaatje, Geoffrey Bawa who changed the history of world architecture, Channa Daswatte and Anjalaendran who are inspiring generations of architects around the globe. I think this is only the beginning of an amazing chapter in this country’s history and we certainly appreciate the opportunity given to us by the country to be able to live and work during these exciting times. We are also aware that any book will reflect the culture and experiences of its creators and we hope that the future will see many more books written on the Galle Fort by writers from very different backgrounds.” Both the authors modestly say that what they have written is by no way definitive.They call their guidebook a short, entertaining and delightful guide which brings the Fort to life and could also be a great souvenir to take back home. But it is also way more than that. Months of careful research were put into the book and every beautiful photo and has found its exact place in the guide. Galle Fort World Heritage Site. A Visitor’s Guide and Illustrated Walking Tour is the work of two people who control their craft to a maximum and could without any doubt be used as an example to future writers. The brilliant text and breathtaking photos makes you feel that you have been on a journey leaving behind the monotony and stresses of day to day life and who wouldn’t want that after all?

Co-author and owner of the Galle Fort Hotel, Karl Steinberg studied Art Law at Melbourne University before completing a three year full time programme at the Australian Film and Television School. As a producer and director, he has worked with the likes of Elton John and Tina Turner.Karl has been a senior producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Mark Thompson has lived in Sri Lanka for three years.He works as an English teacher and writes in his spare time.Prior to coming to Sri Lanka, Mark earned a Bachelor’s degree and Masters degree in Music History at the University of York, which led him to work for five years in London as an artist manager for orchestral conductors. Galle Fort World Heritage Site is his first book and we hope for many more.