21 January, 2021

Sweeping, Short Maps

A vast swathe of stories speak of Tamil life and its loud silences

Sweeping, Short Maps

It’s an extraordinary journey into the heart and mind of Tamil country that this often seemingly weighty tome of short stories, spanning nine decades (1913-2000), promises. At times, the Tamil psyche appears stretched out on the vast plain of the south Indian peninsula like a metaphysical Gulliver. The writers are from a pantheon of freedom fighters, like Subramania Bharati, politicians like C.N. Annadurai and leading lights of the 1930s Manikodi literary magazine set. There were ardent Marxists, social reformers and homegrown Gandhians, who, just as the all-consuming rage of cinema was to engulf them in its glittering fold, managed to wield their pens like pick-axes.

At other times, the reader is encouraged to be a nanobot, to use the latest initiative in medical science. The nanobot is engineered to slip into the bloodstream of the passive human organism and experience at first hand the inn­ermost secrets of what makes a person a human being. These are the existential questions of the sort that the ‘crow’, in Perumal Murugan’s short...



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