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Ashokamitran: The invisible giant

By N. Kalyan Raman

With the death of Ashokamitran on 23 March in Chennai, a unique chapter in the annals of Indian literature has come to an end. For readers everywhere, the special power of Ashokamitran’s fiction derived from his exclusive focus on the experienced reality of individuals rather than on abstractions of ideology or intellect. In this way, his literary mode was very different from other eminent Indian writers who were his contemporaries. Even in the Tamil literary milieu, he stood apart from his peers, forging an inimitable style and language for his fiction, and remaining the engaged outsider in his voluminous output of essays and columns on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from literature and cinema to personalities and politics.

What were the factors that had engendered Ashokamitran’s unique perspective and influenced his chosen literary mode? How different were they from the influences and circumstances that had shaped the work of his contemporaries like Mahasweta Devi, Nirmal Verma, U.R. Ananthamurthy and Sunil Gangopadhyay? Read more

Source: Live Mint


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Book Review: Perumal Murugan’s ‘Pyre’, may its heat singe some sense into you!

By Anjana Balakrishnan

Perumal Murugan’s fiction has the enchanting ability to fill you with dread. To all appearances, his stories are straightforward and simple. But a couple of pages in, you start feeling the robust muscle of society coiling around your neck in a chokehold. Over the next hundred or so pages you find yourself sitting upright in your chair, bed or floor, willing yourself to read as fast you can while simultaneously hoping never to get to the end of the story.

What makes his writing even more chilling is the knowledge that this story could be true in thousands of villages in India, however removed you are from them. Why villages alone? These stories of caste brutalities could be true in a majority of families in India.

Originally written in Tamil as Pookkuzhi (2013), and translated into English in 2016 by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Pyre is Kumaresan and Saroja’s love story laced with the poison of caste. Read more

Source: The News Minute


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Perumal Murugan: The Before and the After

By K. Srilata

On an evening uneasily sandwiched between the demise of the former chief minister Jayalalithaa and the arrival of cyclone Vardah, a small group of people had assembled at Chennai’s iconic Spaces. The occasion was Prakriti Foundation’s launch of Perumal Murugan’s book of poems, Mayanathil Nitkum Maram (A Tree that Stands in the Crematorium) – a book that contains four previous collections of poetry: Nigazh Uravu, Gomuki Nadhikarai Koozhaangal, Neer Midakkum Kanngal and Velli Shani Bhudhan Nyayaru Vzhyayan Chevvai. I was in conversation with Murugan, a role that I, with Murugan’s consent, have recast slightly. I made some introductory remarks following which there was a bi-lingual reading. Murugan read his Tamil poems and I read Peter and Thirugyanam’s English renderings of the same. There was a solemnity to the occasion, for it marked the resurrection of Murugan, the writer. The event itself lasted for less than an hour and there were a few questions and then it is all over before we know it. As we wrap up, I notice a big pile of unsold copies – the story of most poetry book launches.

In January 2015, Murugan had famously announced on Facebook that his writing self was dead. He was being hounded by Hindu right-wing forces and threatened with death. Murugan had made the fatal mistake of portraying certain sexual customs of the people of Tamil Nadu’s Kongu Nadu region in his novel Madhorubhagan. It was a grim, grim story – the sort of thing no writer anywhere in the world would wish for, the sort of thing no writer anywhere in the world should have to face. In the case of Murugan, the threats to his life and to the lives of his family members had the worst possible effect – it very nearly stopped him from writing. Read more

Source: The Wire


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India: Vannadasan, Jerry Pinto, Nasira Sharma among 24 authors named for Sahitya Akademi award

Noted Tamil writer Vannadasan, English novelist Jerry Pinto and Hindi author Nasira Sharma were among the 24 authors named for the Sahitya Akademi Award 2016.

They were cited for Oru Siru Isai, Em and the Big Hoom and Paarijat respectively.

Boluwaru Mohammad Kunhi was named for Swatantryada Ota in Kannada, Edwin JFD Souza for Kale Bhangar in Konkani and Gita Upadhyay for Janmabhumi Mero Swadesh in Nepali.

Eight poets were also honoured: Jnan Pujari (Meghmalar Bhraman/Assamese), Anju (Ang Maboroi Dong Dasong/Bodo), Kamal Vora (Anekek/Gujarati), Prabha Varma (Shyamamadhavam/Malayalam), Sitanath Acharya (Kavyanirjhari/Sanskrit), Gobinda Chandra Majhi (Nalha/Santhali), Nand Javeri (Akhar Katha/Sindhi) and Papineni Sivasankar (Rajanigandha/Telugu). Read more

Source: First Post

 

 


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New Release: Horizon Afar by Jayanthi Sankar

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Published by Kitaab International, Horizon Afar is a collection of Tamil short stories written by Jayanthi Sankar and translator into English by P. Muralidharan.

This collection of short stories traverse beyond the contemporary life of Singapore on a quest to answer the eternal question, “What made life on this earth mechanical and devoid of meaning?” Presented here is a peek into the other side of modern life, opening new windows to the life and culture of various ethnicities of South East Asia.

Jayanthi Sankar is popular in the mainland just as amongst the writers of the diaspora. Her presence is totally absent in the stories themselves. The human side of Singapore, its students, the life of migrant workers and their aspirations to acquire resident status, interracial origins, lives of sex workers, cohabiting youth and many more such lucid narrations motivated me to translate them for English readers. The short story, “A Few Pages from Yuka Wong’s Diary”, on century-old cultural and political issues of China and Japan, is a unique work by any author of Indian origin.

About the author:

Jayanthi Sankar has been creatively active for the past twenty-one years in short stories, novels, translation, transcreations and essays. Several of her books have been awarded by renowned organisations. Born and brought up in India, she has lived in Singapore since 1990. After Loss and Laws, Horizon Afar is the second collection of her Tamil short stories that have been translated into English.

Her website at www.jeyanthisankar.com gives a glimpse of her writing journey.

About the translator:

P. Muralidharan writes with the pseudonym Sathyanandhan. He lives in Chennai, India, and continues his creative quest as a poet, a critic and a novelist in the Tamil literary arts. His ability to write creatively in all genres like short story, poems, columns, novel and criticism on a variety of subjects has made him stand out in the Modern Tamil literature for more than a decade. His works have been published in literary magazines like Kanaiyazhi. Thinnai.com has been a consistent platform for his works. Besides a collection of poetry Veliye veedu, his novels Purshartham and Vigraham have been published in print. Two of his novels Bodhi Maram and Mulveli were published as a series during 2012 and 2013 in Thinnai. His works on Ramayana and Zen, published in Thinnai during 2011 have gained him a wider readership recently. He writes weekly columns in pathivukal.com. All of his works are republished in his blog at https://sathyanandhan.com.

To buy: Horizon Afar 


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The language of (female) friendship is what we have left for the next generation: Tamil writer Ambai

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Tamil writer Ambai on writing detective fiction, why men come first in any literary history and the unacknowledged legacy of women’s lives.

At first, the stories in A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge (Juggernaut, Rs 399) seem like a departure from your usual writing. But you’re actually using the tropes of detective fiction to delve into people’s lives.

I was interested in exploring the complexities of a city like Mumbai. People are always caught up in love or crime or in deciding what the future is going to be like. I thought it would be interesting to have stories with a woman private detective, who is doing routine detective work. It [provides] my character, Sudha Gupta, with many ways of looking at people’s lives.

Have you always been interested in detective stories?

I enjoy reading detective stories. Not crime thrillers as such, but there are certain stories which also have a lot of human elements. The detective fiction of Agatha Christie and even Arthur Conan Doyle, or Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler talk about the human frailties that lead to crime. Read more


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Author CS Lakshmi on detective fiction, feminism and celebrating women

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“Ambai is a character in the Mahabharata who becomes Shikhandi, a man, later,” says CS Lakshmi, 72, while describing her pen name.

She chose to write under a pen name because when she set out to write in the 1960s, every girl born on a Friday back home was named Lakshmi.

The Tamil feminist writer and researcher, today, half a century later, continues to play an important role in strengthening the bond of sisterhood and propelling the movement for women empowerment.

Through her organisation, SPARROW, which is India’s only women’s archives, and her writings – recently a foray into the world of detective fiction intertwined with everyday experiences of being a woman titled A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge – she has created a body of work which is quietly combative and vociferously encouraging.

How did you get the idea of writing detective fiction?

The idea came from the mysteries surrounding life and relationships in a big city like Mumbai. It is a city that has, like its complicated network of transport, complex ways of life within which people live, love, hate and laugh.

The book investigates the trials women face and repress – from the sexual entitlement of men to the imposition of “traditional” women roles. Read more