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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

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Writers from the East enrich novel writing

There are many writers hailing from the eastern parts of Lanka who remain unheard, unsung and not honoured by academics and critics who basically evaluate literature. Except for a few like Prof S Yogarasa (who incidentally is from the North) not many others have written widely on the quality of writing that has been produced in the three districts in the Eastern Province.

Among the non-academics Anbumani (Ira Nahalingam), Vaaharai Vaanan, Shanmugam Sivalingan, and maybe this columnist had commented on the works of writers from the East. Perhaps occasionally Professors S Maunaguru, M A Nuhaman and Chitraleka Mounguru have also touched on the writing in passing.

This absence was not due to a deliberate ignoring by the Northerners, but because of lack of communication between these writers and critics. Both segments remained in closed doors as it were. Further themes employed were not the same by the writers in the two regions. In a superficial way the Northerners were Realists and the Easterners were Romantics primarily because of the differences in the soil in which they lived.

Without going further into the subject, let us gather some details regarding novel writing in the East of the country.

This columnist must confess that this columnist has not read all the novels written by the writers in the east, although he had read and reviewed a handful of them. However, the columnist is indebted to a teacher S Manisekeran who read a paper on the subject at a seminar held in Maddakalppu recently.

For the benefit of interested students, academics and writers I give below some relevant facts about the contribution by writers in the East in novel writing.

According to Manisekeran the first novel in Tamil was “Assenbe” written by Siddi Lebbe in 1885. (But from my point of view this was an adaptation of a foreign novel).The first novel from the east came from Thitukoanamalai (Trinco). It was Innasithamby’s “Ooson Palandai” published in 1891 (Here again it was an adaptation from a Portuguese novel).

The first novel to be written from Maddakkalppu (Batticaloa) was “Aranga Naayaki” written by Aeramba Mudali in 1934 (This too is an adaptation from Kennelworth by Sir Walter Scott). While all these were pioneer woks based on foreign sources, the first original novel to come from Kalmunai was Mohammed Jaleel’s “Oru Vellaip Poo Sirikkirathu” published in the 1970s. Manisekeran identifies the Genres, topics and themes in the novels from the East: historical, detective, mystery, women’s liberation, ethnicity, family problems, disparities, dowry problems, caste problems, expatriate problems and war situation.

Even an earlier novel by Saravanamuthupillai from Thirukanamalai title “Mohanaangi” (1895) had Thamilnadu as its locale covering the political rivalry during the 17th century. However this could be the first historical novel in Thamil.

Writing further Manisekeran lists the following as historical novels written by Lankans in Tamil: “Lanka Rajah” by Pramil (Dhrma Civaramoo), “Yaar Intha Veadar?” (Who are these Veddahas?) by K T Rajagopaal, Grouncha Paravai (Grouncha Bird) by V A Rasarathinam, “Paasak Kutal” (Voice of Affection) “Vaal Munai” (The Sword’s Point) by Arul Selvanayagam and “Nanthik Kodi” The Nandhi Flag) by Vaaharai Vaanan.

All these were written by writers from the East.

Writers from the East have also handled sex themes in their novels. Some of them were “Alagu Sudum” (Beauty will Burn) by Navam, “Moontraavathu Siluvai” (The Third Cross) by Uma Varaharajan, “Kaanal Vati” title borrowed from the Tamil epic Silapadikaaram) by Thamil Nathi, “ Naan Keda Maadden” (I won’t be Spoilt) by Arul Subramaniam.

Mystery or detective novels like “Marma Maaligai” (Mysterious Palace) and “Nilal Manithan” (Shadow Man) were such novels. Racial issues were handled in the following novels: “Audit Thee” (The July Fire) by O K Gunanaathan, “Kodaamai Saantrotk Kani” (I find it difficult to translate this title borrowed from Thirukural) by A M C Vel Alagan, “Thunba Alaikal” (Waves of Sorrow) by S Gunaretnam, “Mannum Mallikaiyum” ((The Soil and the Jasmine Flower) by Vimal Kulanthai Vel.

Two novels are on the theme of intra-conflicts among the militant movements: “PuthiyathoeUlagam Seivoam” (Let’s Make it a New World) by Govindan and noru “InPor Muham” (Another War Front) by Thooyavan. Another short fiction is “Saambal Paravai” (The Ashes Bird) by S Arasaratnam.

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