When millennials are used to having the world’s knowledge at their fingertips, it is hard to imagine a time when people undertook arduous journeys to gather whatever little knowledge that they could. Uthamadanapuram Venkatasubbayyar Saminatha Iyer’s (commonly, U Ve Sa) writings give us a glimpse of that era and the life of a man who strived and sought to recover the palm leaf manuscripts of long-forgotten Tamil literatures without yielding to material and human impediments.
Riveting drama demands neither a large amphitheatre nor elaborate stage settings. It can happen in a nondescript village dotted with palmyra trees amidst which sits an old house, ‘huge and rambling, in near ruins’, inappropriately called Putham Veedu (New House). The cast is ready to hand…real people living their real lives within the limitations of societal norms.
S Rangarajan, who wrote under the allonym ‘Sujatha’, was the quintessential Renaissance man—an engineer with the public sector Bharat Electronics Limited and a key member of the team that invented the electronic voting machine; he was a literary phenomenon in Tamil, writing across genres from popular science, science fiction to thrillers, and romances, stage plays, essays and weekly columns in magazines.
Vappa means father and Umma means mother in the dialect used by Tamil-speaking Muslims. Here is a book filled with Vappas, Ummas, Moothummas (Grandmas), and Moothappas (Grandpas). The book Meeran’s Stories has eighteen short stories written by Sahitya Akademi award-winning Thoppil Mohamed Meeran (1944-2019). He won the award in 1997 for the novel Saivu Narkali (The Reclining Chair).
Aprolific writer, a respected journalist, connoisseur of arts, and a revolutionary, R Krishnamurthy, better known as Kalki, was a literary giant, whose body of work includes Alai Osai, and his famous trilogy, Parthiban Kanavu, Ponniyin Selvan and Sivakamiyin Sabatham. Kalki’s novels, written between 1941-54, belonged to a historical genre, a mix of drama, action, intrigue and passion. He chronicled social issues, where fact and fiction merged to provide the background for his stories.
Vaasanthi. Translated from the original Tamil by Sukanya Venkataraman, Gomathi Narayan and Vaasanthi
Fifteen short stories of Vaasanthi, originally written in Tamil over many years, have been translated by the author (1 story), Sukanya Venkataraman (11 stories) and Gomathi Narayananan (3 stories) in this collection. The dedication of this collection to Vaasanthi’s grandson who when young ‘asked a profound question/ “Are we real?”’ and the author’s answer to him, ‘We are. Because we feel’ sums up the spirit of all the stories in this collection.
The title Surya Vamsam, translating to ‘the family of the sun’, is a tribute to Sivasankari’s father, Suryanarayanan. ‘…overwhelming, exciting, thrilling, hurtful, shameful, moving, shocking and motivating’, and above all, ‘enlightening’ is how Sivasankari describes the many events and incidents in her life, and hopes that reading about them will bring ‘positive energy’ to her readers.