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100 years of the Tamil short story

By January 8, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu


The Hindu Lit for Life is going to have an exclusive Tamil lit fest for the first time this year. It could not have come at a more appropriate time as 2018 marks the completion of the centenary of the Tamil short story. The event will honour senior writer Indira Parthasarathy with a lifetime achievement award and five short story writers with awards and cash prizes.

“Though we have been giving space to all languages in our annual literary festival, this year we have decided to have an exclusive event for Tamil because The Hindu (Tamil) completes five years and the paper is located in Chennai,” said Nirmala Lakshman, director and curator of The Hindu Lit for Life.

The prelude

The short story ‘Kulathankarai Arasmaram’, by freedom fighter V.V.S. Iyer, published in 1917, was a trendsetter in Tamil fiction. The narrator of this story — which captures the plight of a victim of child marriage, Rukmini — is, quite exceptionally, a Peepal tree. Rukmini’s husband, who had reluctantly considered marrying another girl under pressure from his parents, becomes a sannyasin when Rukmini dies. After ‘Kulathankarai Arasmaram’, there was no stopping the Tamil short story, which reached great heights in the hands of subsequent writers.

Lakshman said that in previous editions of the The Hindu Lit for Life, Tamil literature has jostled for space with literature in other languages, especially English. “This year’s event will showcase every facet of Tamil short stories,” she said.

To be inaugurated by noted theatre personality Na. Muthusamy on January 7 at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall in the Lady Andal School premises in Chetpet, the one-day festival will be a prelude to the-three day Lit for Life celebrations. The Tamil festival will have discussions on regional literature, Dalit writings, politics of Tamil short stories, films based on them, impact of world literature on Tamil short stories, feminist writings and short stories in popular magazines.

Getting integrated

To add to the attraction, there will be screenings of films based on Tamil short stories directed by late Balumahendra. They were serialised for television as Kathaineram in the early 1990s.

Noted film director and National Film Award winner Vetrimaaran will initiate a debate on the subject.

Indira Parthasarathy will be given the lifetime achievement award. He will also honour the other awardees.

“Parthasarathy will be conferred the award in The Hindu Lit for Life to stress the importance of Tamil language,” said Lakshman. “We are giving the award during the main festival as it is the first time we are conferring the lifetime achievement award on a Tamil writer and we want to honour him within a wider literary context. The other awards are for specific categories. This is also a way of integrating the Tamil festival into the larger one,” said Lakshman.

Some of the speakers at the Tamil Lit Fest include Prapanchan, Imayam, Pattukkottai Prabakar, A Vennila, Chandra, Azhagiya Periyavan, Kalanthai Peermohamed and film directors Suseenthiran and Sasi.

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