Tales from margins: Anthology of Tamil dalit writing released
CHENNAI: One needn't be surprised if the names of leaders like M C Rajah and P M Maduraipillai are missing from the list of great alumni of their college as "both were dalits," said P Dayanandan, a retired professor. But their works have found a place in the "Oxford India Anthology of Tamil Dalit Writing," a collection of dialogues of dalits and their changing modes of representation, published by Oxford University Press. Edited by Ravikumar and R Azhagarasan, the anthology was released by senior journalist S Viswanathan at the OUP premises here on Tuesday.
The book has 78 selections from 41 writers, covering poetry, fiction, drama, autobiography, biography and, archival and contemporary critical prose.
An excerpt from S Sukirtharani's "Portraits of My Village," "the thick 'sulphurous' smell, of the fermented gruel, received with palms cupped and raised - given as wages for grass cut, bundled, borne by hands abraded by 'ulundu' plants - still pervade the body, like a ductless gland," makes one aware of the power of the prose.
A common theme running throughout the anthology, according to Dayanandan, is identity. "Stalin Rajangam has an article that tells us how the dalit search for identity has jolted and prompted non-dalits to look for identities. Identity is truly a crisis in India, thanks to the caste system," he said.
The selection of works and translation of articles, OUP editor Mini Krishnan said, was the most challenging project she had ever handled. "It was most challenging. And I am proud of having a great team that worked relentlessly for hours to finish the anthology, which covers about a century of writing (1890-2010)," she said. Senior Tamil writer Indira Parthasarthy and translator and critic Vasantha Surya were present.
"Knowing is enough to mislead us"- Maurice Blanchot
visit my website: