Friday, March 16, 2012

Interview of Thenmozhi

1. What sort of writing do you like to do? Which of your works has been appreciated the most by the literary community?

I have started my writing with poetry. Now I am doing essays, translations, book reviews and short stories. Among them I feel very comfortable in short story. The literary community also appreciated and recognized it. Mini Krishnan of Oxford University Press also appreciates my short stories. Pechi maram - one of my short stories is going to be published in an OUP anthology of Tamil Dalit writings.

2. When did you start writing? Why?

I have started writing in 1996 when I was a research scholar in Bharathidasan University, Trichirappalli. That time my family situation was not good. My mother left us due to quarrels with my father. My father was a school teacher who had a good knowledge in classical Tamil literature. Being the only child I was his daughter, student and friend. He taught me Ramayana, Cilappathikaram and poems of Bharathi. I have tried poetry to overcome my loneliness.

3. What background do you come from? Was it hard to publish your first book?

I came from a middle class semi rural semi urban dalit background. Yes I have struggled a lot to publish my works. My first book - Thuravi Nandu - was published by kalachuvadu – one of the leading publishers in Tamil, only in 2008.  

4. Where do you live?

I live in Thanjavur where I work as Asst. Commissioner in Commercial Taxes Department.

5. What themes do you like to explore in your works?

I am interested in probing the inner worlds of human lives. I am also trying to register the untold cultural elements and experiences of rural people.

6. What is the state of Tamil literature, according to you? Is there enough encouragement, enough avenues for publication?

Yes, it is encouraging. Many young writers are doing well, particularly women writers. I have struggled a lot to publish my first book. But I did not take any effort to publish my short story collection. Just I sent an unpublished short story to Ravikumar. He immediately called me and appreciated the story. Then he started a new publishing house called Manarkeni Publication to publish my book and invited Arundhati Roy to release it. I am so fortunate.

7. Who are you inspired by?

I am not inspired by anyone. But I love reading short stories of Ambai , novels of  T.Janakiraman , translations and critical writings of Ravikumar.

8. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I have planned to finish my first novel in 2012 and my PhD thesis before 2013. My second collection of poems ( Thinai punam ) is going to be published this year along with my second short story collection, both by Manarkeni Publication. I want to be more vibrant and visible.

9. Indira Parthasarathy  have called you 'the future of Tamil literature'. How does it feel to be honored like this? Did you see this coming?

Writer Indira Parthasarathy have mentioned it in the blurb of my short story collection. It is a great honor to a young writer like me. His trust on my writing increases my responsibility.

10. What are you working on right now? Is writing a full-time job?

No I am not a full time writer, but I write at least a paragraph daily. Right now I am working on my novel, simultaneously writing short stories, preparing papers for seminars, translating stories, doing editorial assistance in Manarkeni – a literary bi-monthly.

11. What is it about Tamil that makes such powerful expression possible?

Yes Tamil is a special language with a rich literary heritage. You can not translate everything from Tamil. I try to transcend the barrier between poetry and prose in my writing.

( This Interview was taken by Ms Shoba - a correspondent of Indian Express ) 

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