Thursday, 11 February 2010

What Tamil Writers? Six Years Later

Let me start with a few disclaimers: I did not study in a Tamil school. I am not a Tamil writer. I am not a Tamil. I can speak good Tamil (if I may say so myself) but I am not fluent in writing and reading Tamil.
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Nevertheless, I keep in touch with Malaysian and Singapore Tamil writers and their writings. I try my best to attend Tamil literature functions and listen to Tamil literary programmes on radio.
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I never miss a chance to indulge myself in Indian modern fiction (Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telegu, Urdu etc) translated to English. I also read fiction and non-fiction from around the world, translated to English.
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From time to time, I have formal and very informal discussions with Tamil writers, editors, publishers, scholars, teachers, lecturers, critics and readers. Unknown to others, I “study” Malaysian Tamil literature.
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Therefore, in early 2004, when the editor for the Literary section of New Straits Times requested me to write a critical piece about Tamil creative writing in Malaysia, I agreed without hesitation.
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Furthermore, I came to understand that earlier, a few prominent Tamil writers had promised but failed to submit a piece for publication. Alas! What a pity.
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Anyway, as an observer of the Malaysian Tamil literature scenario, I knew from the very beginning that my “critical piece” would create an uproar among certain groups. But I have nothing to fear.
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Worse comes to worst, my piece – aptly titled “What Tamil Writers?” and published on 11 February 2004 – would be translated to Tamil and published in a Tamil daily for the benefit of the Malaysian Tamil writers and readers.
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Mind you, that was exactly what happened a few weeks later!
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Nonetheless, I was very happy to note that Dr R. Karthigesu, himself a prominent Tamil writer and a former professor of communication at Universiti Sains Malaysia, finally found the need – and time – to write a response.
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Rightly titled “A Tamil Writer Talks Back”, his response was published in New Straits Times on 25 February 2004. And in case you were wondering, yes! It was translated to Tamil and published in the Tamil daily, Malaysia Nanban, on 21 March 2004; obviously for the benefit of the Malaysian Tamil writers and readers. (Go figure.)
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As for those who have no problem understanding English, a copy of “What Tamil Writers?” is available [HERE].
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Sorry, no translation.

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Sila gunakan Bahasa Malaysia atau Bahasa Inggeris yang betul dari segi ejaan, tatabahasa, tanda baca, struktur ayat dan kesantunan berbahasa. Komen tanpa nama tidak akan dilayan. Komen yang tiada kaitan dengan topik tidak akan disiarkan. Pencemaran bahasa diharamkan!