Canadian Literary Pursuits!
Lanka-born academics who are also writers live in Canada : Michael Ondaatje,
Chelva Kanaganayagam and Rudramoorthy Cheran. The latter is
an outstanding poet in Thamil. There may be others who teach in academic
institutions, but I am not aware of. Lanka-born expatriates from the Thamilian
community live in Canada in larger numbers than in other parts of the world.
Apart from Sri Lanka, the second largest concentration of such a community
is in Canada, especially in the Scarborough district of Toronto city. As
far as I know the three noticeable vehicles of expression and communication
of such an enterprising community are the Tamils' Information publication
and the two Internet web sites- Kuviyam and Pathivukal.
(Focus) is edited by Pon. Kulendiren. Initially in Thamil and English
and later in French, this website archives many useful articles and information.
This e-zine has features of many aspects including Lankan writing.
Last weekend, Kuviyam organized a Literary Evening which included a Readers
Circle Forum and launching of a book, poets' corner and sale of books.
Pon Kulendiren writes
fiction as well and has authored a collection of his own short stories
in English titled 'Stories from Sri Lanka ', published by 1st Books, a
The web address: www.kuviyam.com.
'Kuviyam' is trilingual (I wish that it includes articles in Sinhala as
well), 'Pathivukal' is bilingual. It has started recently to include articles
in English. The editor hopes to launch a separate edition in English on
Lankan literature and the arts in general, shortly. Yours truly contributes
to these two e-zines. 'Pathivukal' is edited by V.N. Giritharan,
who writes fiction and poetry. His stories are translated into English
as well. In his website, one finds his own contributions. A product of
the University of Morotuwa, his special interest includes architecture.
He has authored a few books including one on the Nallur Rajadhani in Yaalpanam..
Although there are other Thamil e-zines from other parts of the world,
which spasmodically feature Lankan Thamil writing and Lanka-born writers
in Thamil, Pathivukal is by far the updated e-zine covering, especially
the contemporary Lankan Thamil Literary Scene.
The web address: http://www.pathivukal.com
Tamils' Information ' bulletin!
'Tamils' Information '
bulletin and the Annual is edited by S. Thiruchelvam, an energetic
journalist and publisher. His columns under the name 'Esthi' in the Thinakaran
Vaara Manjari, two decades ago, were much sought-after reading.
He has authored a few
books including a booklet on the 20th century Thamil poet, Subramania Bharathi.
He has also published a number of books in Thamil in Canada.I shall review
briefly the Tamils' Information Annual - 2004 in a later column.
A novel on Ancient Lanka!
A novel in Thamil by the
late V.A. Rasarathnam of Moothoor was the first attempt by a Lankan
Thamil writer to a historical romance in somewhat Marxian tone, although
there were other writers from the same community to write stories drawn
from the history of the Sinhalas like the late Ilankayarkone (King of Lanka
- his real name was Sivagnanasundaram) S.Ponnuthurai, Chokkan et al. Rasaratnam's
novel was titled "Krouncha Paravaigal" - an ancient eagle like bird).
In Sinhala, I believe that
there must be quite a few on this strain. For instance, A.V. Suraweera's
novel on the construction of ' Sigiriya ' in the 5th century, Colin de
Silva's "The Winds of Sinhale", may be mentioned.
V.A. Rasaratnam's novel
is set in the period around 240 B.C., or a little earlier. The background
is the reign of Sura Tissa and the ascendency of Sena and Guttika.
By the way, these names
do not sound Thamil or Thamilian. Like Magha, these invaders might have
been of Kalinga dynasty, although they are mistaken for Thamilian kings.
Rasaratnam's hero Bandula
is an anti-royalist. He challenges the establishment by organizing the
youth to force Sura Tissa to give up his religious mission in building
viharas and dagobas, than to developing agriculture and to devote himself
to agriculture and the welfare of the people. The writer's sympathy is
with Bandula, but the novel ends with the failure of the youth movement
and the tragic end of Bandula and his aristocratic lover, Prabha.
The last sentence of the
novel translates into English something like this: The red blood of the
youth who dreamt of independent villages turned the island of Lanka into
a riot of red.
The writer, VAR was an
important writer from the east of Sri Lanka and his short story, 'Thoani'
(The Boat), also translated beautifully into English by A.J.Canagaratna
for the Sunday Observer in the 1960s, is indeed an outstanding story in
the Thamil language.
Those days, AJC and S.Sivanayagam
who writes in an elegant style translated a few Lankan Thamilian stories
Sivanayagam, who worked
for the then 'Daily Mirror' ( while Reggie Michael was the editor) ran
a popular weekly feature called 'The Forum'. Later he became the
pioneer editor of the now defunct Yarlpanam weekly, 'Saturday Review '.
"Sayings that linger
Kaiyalavu, Kallathathu Ulakalavu (What we learnt could be cupped in our
palms; what we don't know is like the widweworld.
courtesy: Daily News (Sri