Contemporary Tamil Writing from Sri Lanka

Edited by Kannan Muthukrishnan, Rebecca Whittington, D. Senthil Babu & David C. Buck

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books India (1 December 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143423045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143423041

Kannan Muthukrishnan (b. 1968) heads the Programme on Contemporary Tamil Culture, Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry.

Rebecca Whittington (b. 1987) is a PhD student in the department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include Tamil and Bengali modern literature, comparative literature, literary modernism, and translation studies.

D. Senthil Babu (b.1972) is a historian of science affiliated to the Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry.

David C. Buck (b. 1948) has been translating Tamil works into English since 1965. He has also studied Cittar and Saiva religion and philosophy as well as Carnatic music on the veena. His publications include a number of collaborations with the late Dr. K. Paramasivam, including a translation of Iraiyanar Akapporul with Nakkirar s commentary, as well as some Sangam poetry. He has also published a translation, with comments, of Thirukkurraalak Kuravanci. More recently he has published a number of translations from contemporary Tamil literature in collaboration with Kannan M. of the French Institute in Pondicherry. David C. Buck is an Associate Professor Emeritus at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Kentucky, USA.


The three decade long conflict tore apart the Tamils world in Sri Lanka. This anthology, framed by war, brings together poems, stories and a memoir by Tamil writers living there and in the diaspora. Wide ranging and from recent decades, till the wars ending, these pieces have been translated with great skill for the first time into English. Stark and sometimes lyrical, distilling memory, history, mythology and classical literary tropes, they powerfully echo the Tamils sorrows and deep fears, their longings and hopes for tomorrow.

Laments about youths felled by gunfire, their forced disappearances, the loss of family and homes, desecration of shrines, repeated displacements, becoming international refugees alternate with remembrance of the beauteous forests and sea, of celebrations of Tamil language and culture and the compassion of women providing people succour. Accompanied by an introduction to set the context, this rich and moving volume reveals the spirit of a wounded island and brings its voices to a new audience.

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