Published on Deccan Chronicle (http://www.deccanchronicle.com)
Anthology of dalit writing to hit stands April 10
For the generation that has known M.C. Raja as the name of hostel and Ayothiya Dasar as the name of a research centre, here comes the Oxford anthology of Tamil dalit writing. The anthology, to be released in the city on April 10, seeks to compile dalit writing in Tamil that has existed over 100 years. "In fact, it was the pioneer to non-Brahmin movement. We have included works of 110 years," says writer and activist Ravi Kumar who has edited the anthology along with Mr R. Azhagarasan who works in University of Madras. Dalit writing in Tamil is distinctly different from Indian dalit writing that has perhaps emerged in the post-Dalit Panthers phenomenon. What is unique about dalit writing in Tamil, says Mr Ravi Kumar, is that it has sought to break stereotypes that have positioned dalit writing from the victim's point of view. "We have touched on the various issues that have been addressed in dalit writing and also the literary techniques." The Oxford anthology would be a first-of-its-kind effort to compile dalit writings in Tamil. Over 20 translators have worked on this anthology. "The anthology is being directly published in English," says Mr Ravi Kumar. Oxford University Press' editor (translations) Mini Krishnan says, "There is not such a volume today, not even in Tamil." That the anthology includes the speeches of leaders like Thirumavalavan, Krishnasamy and Athiyaman besides the works of a host of dalit writers, prove that by dalit writing, the editors mean much more than dalit literature. Agrees Mr Ravi Kumar: "Though it is practically impossible to bring in all names in any anthology, we have brought in all the trends of dalit writing in Tamil." In the release function on April 10 at Chennai, Mr Ravi Kumar will introduce the work and speak of the evolution and significance of the volume. Several literary personalities and academicians will also take part.