Tamil literature may have old origins, but it is also open to fresh writing in various genres and styles

For every fan of Tamil Eight literary names your bookshelf cant do withoutImage for representation
Features Culture Monday, April 18, 2016 - 15:23

For every fan of Tamil: Eight literary names your bookshelf can’t do without

It’s one of the oldest literatures in the world. But Tamil literature is also welcoming of newness and fresh writing in varied genres and styles. If you are a Tamil literature aficionado perhaps it’s time to brush up on these classics again. And if you’re new to Tamil literature, then here are 8 must read authors who should find a place on your bookshelf.

Perumal Murugan

Two years ago, this 50-year-old author came under attack for his controversial novel Madhorubagan (One Part Woman) which explored the tyranny of tradition with extreme sensitivity. However, many Hindu and caste-based outfits protested against the novel. Ultimately, Murugan posted on his Facebook page “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead. As he is no God, he is not going to resurrect himself. He also has no faith in rebirth. An ordinary teacher, he will live as P Murugan. Leave him alone.”

Perumal Murugan has authored six novels, three of which have been translated into English — Seasons of the PalmCurrent Show and more recently PyreSeasons of the Palm went on to be shortlisted for the Kiriyama prize. He has also penned four collections of short stories and four anthologies of poetry.


One of the most versatile authors in the Tamil fiction sphere, Sujatha is the pseudonym of S. Rangarajan. Sujatha has over 100 novels, 250 short stories, ten volumes of plays and ten stage plays to his credit. An engineer by profession, he is also widely recognized for making science accessible to all through his regular contributions to numerous magazines on the subject in simple language. His famous novel En Iniya Iyanthira (My dear robot), published in late 1980s, talks about what the world would come to be if it were to be taken over by robots. A critically acclaimed work, this book set him apart from his contemporaries.

He has also been the editor for Kumudham, a Tamil magazine and has written screenplays for several movies including RojaIruvarKannathil MutthamittalAnniyanMudhalvanSivaji, and Enthiran.

He was awarded the Kalaimamani award by the Government of Tamil Nadu and an award from the Goverrnment of India’s National Council for Science and Technology in 1993. Sujatha passed away in 2008, millions of fans mourning his death.

Kalki Krishnamurthy

Popularly hailed as the pioneer of Tamil contemporary literature, Kalki Krishnamurthy is a renowned poet, writer, and journalist among other things. His compositions include 120 short stories, 5 novels, 10 novelettes and numerous reviews on film and music.

His work Ponniyin Selvan remains one of the landmark pieces in Tamil literature. Set in the historical period of Raja Raja Chozhan, the story describes the political landscape of that era. The novel appeared in a serial format in his magazine Kalki, like most of his other novels.

Kalki succumbed to tuberculosis in 1954, leaving a legacy of immortal stories behind him.

T Janakiraman

Thi. Janakiraman (Thi Jaa) is one of the major figures of Tamil literature in the 20th century, and was an expert at portraying life in the Thanjavur milieu. Born into a Brahmin family in Chennai; he worked as a civil servant before he took up writing.

His most noted work is the novel Mogamul (thorn of desire), which revolves around the story of a young passionate singer who travels away from home to study, and encounters his past love. The singer’s struggles between his lust and his passion and the dictats of society form the plot of the story. The novel was adapted into a film of the same name by director Gnana Rajasekaran in 1995.

He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi award for his short story collection Sakthi Vaidhyam. He passed away in 1983.

Na Parthasarathy

Na Parthasarathy is a Tamil author who wrote predominantly historical novels. He has worked in several publications such as Kalki, Dina Malar and Kadhir before running his own magazine named Deepam, following which he was known as Deepam Parthasarathy. He won the Sahitya Akademi award for his novel Samudhaya Veedhi in 1971. His other works include novels like Manipallavam, Kurinchi Malar, Sathiya Vellam, and Pon Vilangu. He passed away in 1987.


Fondly referred to as JK by his friends, Jayakanthan is considered to be the colossus of Tamil literature, wielding his pen against social injustices and inequality. He has authored 35 novels, innumerable short stories and two autobiographies. His trilogy on human relationships Agnipravesam, Sila Nerangalil sila Manithargal and Gangai Enge Pogiral is still extremely popular and the themes explored by him hold true even today.

A mutli-faceted personality, he was awarded the Jnanpith award and the Sahitya Akademi award. He is also a recipient of the Padma Bhushan. He passed away in 2015, aged 80.

Indira Parthasarathy 

The only Tamil writer to have won the Sangeeth Natak and the Sahitya Akademi Award, Indira Parthasarathy is one of the most celebrated writers in Tamil fiction. Commonly known as Ee Paa, Dr Parthasarathy used his wife’s name ‘Indira’ as a pseudonym. He was born into a traditional Iyengar family in Chennai in 1930.

Most of his novels are based in Delhi or Srirangam, where he spent most of his life. His characters are commonly described as being urban intellectuals with broad views and analyzing minds. Rebelling against the orthodox structure of the Brahmin community, Ee Pa joined the Communist party in college. He found strength in the works of writers from oppressed classes, hailing them as the pioneers of Tamil contemporary literature.

He won the Sahitya Akademi award in Tamil for Kuruthipunal (Blood River) which was based on the burning of 42 dalits in East Tanjore. He was decorated with the title of Padma Shri by the President of India in 2010.


Originally named Thyagarajan, Asokamitran, was born in Secunderabad, and moved to Chennai in his 20s, where he worked at Gemini studios for over a decade. He has chronicled his tryst with Tamil filmdom in his book My Years With The Boss.

His very first play Anbin Parisu went on to be an award-winning play, after which his career was punctuated by numerous short stories, novellas and novels. He has over 200 short stories, eight novels and around 15 novellas in his name. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi award in 1996.



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