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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Essay | No longer at ease
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Essay | No longer at ease

Tamil writer Sundara Ramaswamy's modernist legacy is presented before an English readership by two elegant translators

The passing of an old order is captured hauntingly in Su Raa’s fiction. Photo: Vivek NairPremium
The passing of an old order is captured hauntingly in Su Raa’s fiction. Photo: Vivek Nair

Sukanya said that Sridaran often mentioned the word ‘modern’. What an attractive word! Dreams and visions swirled around it. ‘However hard we try and think, our brains won’t catch the sense of it exactly, Ramani. We must go and live in London to understand what it means,’ said Sukanya.

Children, Women, Men

Sundara Ramaswamy died in 2005, leaving behind him a body of work that included three novels, several short stories, some poems (written under the pen name “Pasuvayya") and translations into Tamil of the work of Malayalam writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. He also published and edited the Tamil literary journal Kalachuvadu that has carried the works of new and established writers over the years.

Su Raa, as he is popularly known, was greatly influenced by the work of the writer Pudhumaipithan (whose collected works the Kalachuvadu Trust edited and published in 2000). His early stories, such as Heifer and Sita Brand Soapnut Powder, had the kind of direct language and sharp observations about people and society that Pudhumaipithan and other progressive writers of the early 20th century thought necessary to resuscitate Tamil literature from its excessive formality.

Children, Women, Men: By Sundara Ramaswamy, Translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom, Penguin Books India, 552 pages, Rs 499
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Children, Women, Men: By Sundara Ramaswamy, Translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom, Penguin Books India, 552 pages, Rs 499

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Published: 13 Jul 2013, 12:04 AM IST
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