Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tamil writers

I love S.Ramakrishnan's writing. Easily one of the best contemporary Tamil writers around. I have read almost all of his books, except for few books including the one he wrote for kids, a fantasy titled "Eluthalai Nagaram".

S ramakrishnan used to write a series for Ananda Vikatan, which i used to read every week without fail. Eventually i bought the collection when Ananda Vikatan published it. I honestly believe that if he had written all his books in English, he would have received all possible awards. Booker, name it.

I have been reading "Yamam" last few months(Tagore Literary award winner in India). Havent finished the book yet. Been quite busy at work. But i love the book as of now. Yamam keeps traversing between different timelines and is quite intense for a novel. His books are not for those people who want to finish it in one flight trip. these are not fast paced page turners. These are books that flow like a river. You have to read them patiently and understand them to like them. That is what makes his writing so special to me. My mom is a huge fan of Ramakrishnan. When i was in school, Ramakrishnan was writing "Thunai eluthu" in Vikatan. Then I left India and came to Singapore where i didnt have a chance to read thunai eluthu. So my mom used to save up all the ananda vikatan issues for me to read during my summer vacation which i spent in India. I must be thankful that i had almost 3 months of summer vacation during university days. Such an amazing writer, who not many people know of.

I dont think he is writing anything in Ananda Vikatan now, but he has been writing this series called "Enathu India" in Junior Vikatan. I have been reading it on and off. I will surely buy the compilation book once it is released. Enathu India, translates to 'My india', is not about the future of India or the present economic crisis or power crisis or communal crisi..(etc etc etc..we have lotta problems in india right now) This book is a compilation of India's forgotten past. The good, the bad and the ugly of India. It just doesnt talk about the glorious past and the story of kohinoor diamonds. It also talks about the brutality of sati and devadasis and talks about the history of ice cubes in India. (yup, you read it right. There is an entire chapter on Ice cube trade in india. Some ice cube salesman in the US got filthy rich by exporting ice cubes to India by ship)

I have always liked this kind of history books, irrespective of countries. I am always looking for books like this. another very interesting book on Indian history is "Vanthargal Vendrargal" by Madhan. This is another gem, which many people dont know of. The entire book is about the advent of mughals up until the time when the british crown officially took over the British East India company.

This is another fascinating read. Written like a novel with classic Madhan style humor. Worth a read. In my opinion this book should have been published and marketed as a fictional paperback with a historic background. Vikatan blew it by publishing an A4 book which is quite frankly difficult to read with one hand. I read this book when i was in 11th standard. This history of India is much more intriguing than the historical freedom struggle, in my opinion. School history books predominantly focus on freedom struggle..the likes of non-violence movement and non-cooperation movement, etc etc. So one must look at other avenues to learn this kind of forgotton history. I was in India on company business two years ago. Me and my singaporean colleagues travelled around in North India and visited so many new places and historical sites and i kept remembering this book everywhere we went.

Not so surprisingly, many tamilians dont read tamil books. Some say, they dont enjoy it. Some say, they cant recgonise tamil letters (what a shame right?). They have no idea what they are missing. And this comes from someone who has read a mere handful of books. I havent even scratched the surface yet.

I have read sujatha's novels and love sujatha's writing, which is still relevant. I read a sci-fi story that Sujata wrote in 1979 that talks about time travel and alternate reality. Mind blowing stuff. And Sujatha's "kolaiyuthir kalam" is easily one of the best thriller novels i have read (except for the cheesy title, everything else is good in the book). Un-put-downable. Same goes for all Ganesh-Vasanth stories, based on Sherlock-Watson theme, with a bit more funny version of Watson.

These days i have also been reading Sujatha's "401 Kadhal kavithaigal" (not the kind of book you think) This book is Sujatha's explanation of Tamil poems in Kurunthogai. And i must admit, i am not liking this book very much. Too much for my standard. Tough to understand the poems AND sujatha's explanation. This is how it basically works. I read the poem..dont understand a word. Read Sujatha's explanation..understand barely. Then ask myself, "okay, what does that have to do with anything?" So i dont recommend this book unless you are an "advanced" reader, so to speak.

Same goes for the Purananooru book by Sujatha. Too much for my standard. But i will return to these two books some day. Kurunthogai and Purananooru are the books which are constantly referred to when scholars talk about tamil history. So that is basically the reason why i want to read these two books. Reading themselves without explanations is like reading Urdu. Old tamil is just whole different language. While i dont have difficulty understanding contemporary Tamil poems, this is whole new level of difficulty.

In conclusion there is still so much left to explore in Tamil. One of my uncles is a retired Tamil professor in Karaikudi, who has been the one suggesting me good tamil books. And he has a mini library at home. I will surely catch up with him this time i go to India. And what is taking Amazon so long to support other languages in Kindle?