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  2004 51 -
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K.S.Sivakumaran's columns!
K.S.Sivakumaran
Canadian Literary Pursuits!

By K.S.Sivakumaran

K.S.SivakumaranThree 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. 

Kuviyam!
Kuviyam (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 U.S. publisher. 

The web address: www.kuviyam.com.

Pathivukal!
While '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 into English. 

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 

Thiruvalluvar: Kattathu Kaiyalavu, Kallathathu Ulakalavu (What we learnt could be cupped in our palms; what we don't know is like the widweworld. 

Contact: kssivan@juno.com 
courtesy: Daily News (Sri Lanka)

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