‘It is not just art but an act of protest’

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By Latha Anantharaman

Novelist Ambikasutan Mangad on why he joined the fight for justice for victims of endosulfan

Ambikasutan Mangad, professor of Malayalam at Nehru Arts and Science College, Kanhangad, is a novelist and writer of short stories. In his Malayalam novel Enmakaje (2009), a couple who retreat from their sorrows to an isolated paradise are drawn back into a community’s desperate struggle against the pesticides that have poisoned their water and land. As we read, we realise the photos and reports we see in the papers about the impact of endosulfan are only those that the public can “stand” to see. The novel has now appeared in an English translation by J. Devika as Swarga, and, in a phone conversation, the writer gently steers away from his own art and mythmaking to the daily nightmare of Enmakaje village. Excerpts:

In writing this novel, did you consider yourself more an activist than an artist?

In 2001, I became involved in the anti-endosulfan protest. I wrote a story, Panchuruli, which appeared in Mathrubhumi in 2002, about pesticides and their harmful effects. I became chairman of the Endosulfan Viruddha Samaram Samithi. Between 2003 and 2017, I have written 45 essays and protested about medical treatment for victims and about compensation. So, in this matter, I am an activist.

On the other hand, I am a writer. I question myself about writing a novel on this subject. Read more

Source: The Hindu

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