by Tamil Wiki, accessed March 7, 2023
A. Muttulingam (January 19, 1937) is one of the pre-eminent writers in modern Tamil literature. His contributions, which include short stories, essays, interviews and novels, are characterized by humour, aesthetic appeal and perfection in form. Born in Sri Lanka, he is a storyteller who travelled the world on work and captured the varied cultures of the nations he visited, their people and their incongruities, in his writing. He founded the Tamil Literary Garden(Tamil Illakiya Thottam) in Canada. The organization presents lifetime achievement awards to eminent literary personalities. He led the effort towards establishing Tamil chairs at many universities, including Harvard University, U.S.A.
Early Life & Education
A. Muttulingam was born on January 19, 1937 to Appadurai and Rasamma, in Kokuvil in the Jaffna District of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. He did his schooling in Kokuvil Hindu College and Jaffna College schools. After graduating from the University of Colombo with a degree in Science, he passed the Chartered Accountant examination in Sri Lanka and the Management Chartered Accountant examination in the United Kingdom.
A. Muttulingam married Kamalaranjani and the couple have a son, Sanjayan and a daughter, Vaithehi. He has worked in many countries, including Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Muttulingam has served in the World Bank and held senior positions in the United Nations Office for Project Services. He currently lives with his wife in Markham, Ontario State, Canada.
After a long hiatus, he resumed writing in 1995 with another collection of short stories, Thigadachakram (Ten Beautiful Arms). Since then, he has authored numerous short story collections and essays. Unmaikalantha Natkuripugal (2008) was his first novel. Kadavul Thodangiya Idam (2011), a novel, was serialized in Anandha Vikatan. Some of Muttulingam’s literary works are set in Africa, Arabia and Pakistan where he worked and travelled, and also in Sri Lanka, his birthplace. He has interviewed several writers from India and outside, including Margaret Atwood.
He was instrumental in the founding of the Tamil Ilakkiya Thottam (Tamil Literary Garden) in 2001 in Canada. The organisation aims to recognize eminent personalities from around the world, who have worked to promote the Tamil language, by presenting them with a life achievement award.
In 2018, he collaborated with others, like Dr. Vijay, Janakiraman, to raise funds from Tamilians around the world, in order to establish a Tamil chair at Harvard University, U.S.A. Muttulingam has captured this experience in his article titled Kaalai Thoduven.
A. Muttulingam was criticized by a few for limiting his exploration of the tragedies of the Eelam war in his works. To this, he replied, “I have gone to the limits that I needed to go to. A writer’s work should be judged by what he has written, rather than what he has not.”
In his works, A. Muttulingam placed a high degree of emphasis on ensuring ‘pleasure of the text’. Critic Jayamohan considers his works to be a continuation of the literary traditions of the Tamil writers Ki. Rajanarayanan and Ashokamitran. Jeyamohan has written extensively about Muttulingam in an essay titled Punnagaikkum Kadhaisolli (Smiling Storyteller). Subtle humour, literary anecdotes, engaging details and mythology embellish his writing.
A. Muttulingam’s writings transcend cultural and territorial boundaries; they contain a global vision and an exploration of cultural identity for humanity as a whole. His stories deal with the problems of immigrants and their affinities and aversions towards their adopted cultures, without passing them off as humourous absurdity. Neither do they pass judgement on other cultures or hold a misplaced sense of cultural pride in his own roots. Muttulingam writes with an all-embracing global perspective and his stories are intimate portraits of people from different races, languages and cultures, dealt with compassion.
Muttulingam’s works contain images drawn from modern life, such as a washing machine (Bhoomadevi). Even his realistic depictions of life reach new heights through the poetry of these images.
Biographies, Special Editions
- Solvanam internet magazine: A. Muttulingam special edition – February, 2017
- Gnanam Tamil literary magazine published Ezhuthulagil A. Muttulingam 60 (A. Muttulingam in the literary world) as a special edition, in April 2018.
- https://spillwords.com/the-story-of-ekolu/- THE STORY OF EKOLU
- Dilemma – Defunct magazine
- Goat Milk Puttu
Short Story Collections
- Akka (Sister) – Vijayalakshmi Library (1964)
- Thikadachakram– Gandhalakam (1995)
- Vamsaviruthi-Mitra Release (1996)
- Vadakku Veethi (North Street) – Manimegalai Publication (1998)
- Maharajavin Rail Vandi (Maharaja’s Train) – Kalachuvadu Publication (2001)
- A. Muthulingam Kathaigal (A.Muthulingam Stories) (Complete Collection of Short Stories – Written till 2003) – Tamilini Publishing House (2003)
- Americakari – Kalachuvadu Publication (2009)
- Kuthiraikaran (Horseman) – Kalachuvadu Publication(2013)
- Kozhuthadu Pidippen (Selected Short Stories) – Editor K. Mohanarangan-Kalachuvadu Publishing House (2015)
- Pillai Kadathalkaran (Child Abductor) – Kalachuvadu Publication (2015)
- Aatuppal Puttu – Nattrinai Publishing House (2016)
- The Complete Collection of A.Muttulingam Short Stories – Two Parts – Nattrinai Publishing House (2016)
- A. Muttulingam Short Stories – Audiobook-Eastern Publishing (2008)
- Inauspicious Times – 2008 – Short stories by Appadurai Muttulingam – translation by Padma Narayanan-Indian Writing-2008
- After Yesterday – Translated from Tamil – Short stories – translation by Padma Narayanan-Ratna Books; 1st edition – 2018
- Ange Ippa enna Neram? (What time is it there?) -Tamilini Publishing (2004)
- Bhoomiyin Pathi Vayathu (Earth Half-Age) – Uyirmai (2007)
- Kadikaram amaithiyaga ennikkondirukiradhu (The Clock Is Counting Silently) – (Review Collection) – Uyirmai (2006)
- Viyatthalum Ilame (Interviews) – Kalachuvadu Publishing House (2006)
- Amerika Ulavali (American Spy) – Kizhakku Publication (2010)
- Ondrukkum Udavadhavan – Uyirmai (2011)
- Thamizh Mozhikku Nadillai (There is no country for the Tamil language) – Interviews – Kayal Gavin Publishing (2013)
- Thottravar Varalaru (Loser’sHistory) – Nattrinai Publishing (2016)
- A.Muttulingam Essays – Complete Collection – Two Volumes-Nattrinai Publishing (2018)
- Unmai kalandha Naatkurippu – Uyirmai (2008)
- Kadavul Thodangiya Idam (Where God Began) – Vikatan Publication (2012)
Awards & Recognitions
- Pakkuvam (Maturity) -Short Story-Dinakaran Short Story Competition – First Prize – Dinakaran Daily, Sri Lanka (1961)
- Anula-Kalki Short Story Competition-Second Prize – Kalki Weekly Magazine, Chennai, India (1959-1961)
- Thikadachakram – Short Story Collection – Lilly Devasikamani Memorial Award, Lilly Devasikamani Memorial Foundation, Coimbatore, India (1995)
- Vamsaviruthi – Short Story Collection – First Prize for Best Short Story Collection – Government of Tamil Nadu, India (1996)
- Vamsaviruthi – Short Story Collection – First Prize for Best Short Story Collection – State Bank of India (1996)
- Jothi Vinayagam Memorial Short Story Prize – Jothi Vinayagam Memorial Short Story Project (1997)
- Vadakku Veethi (North Street) – Short Story Collection – State Literary Award (Sakitiya Award) – Government of Sri Lanka (1999)
- ‘Forty Years of Tamil Literary Achievement Award’ for Literary Contribution ’- Thamizhar Thagaval Monthly Magazine, Canada (2006)
- Amerika Ulavali (American Spy) – Editor-in-Chief Tirupur Tamil Sangam Literary Award, Tirupur Tamil Sangam, India (2012)
- Kudiraikaran (Horseman) – Short Story Collection – Vikatan Award for Best Short Story Collection, Vikatan Group, Chennai, India (2012)
- Amerikakari – Tamil Immigrant’s Tamilpeeraaya Vipulaanandhar Creative Award – SRM University, Chennai, India (2012)
- Literary Contribution-Literary Award-Markham City Council-State of Ontario, Canada (2014)
- A. Muttulingam Website
- Solvanam Internet Magazine: A. Muttulingam special edition
- ‘The smiling storyteller’, Article on A Muttulingam by Jeyamohan
- A Muttulingam interview
- A. Muttulingam short stories- review by Arulselvam