Kovai Gnani, renowned Tamil Marxist scholar and writer, passes away at 85

One of the greatest Tamil Marxist critiques of his times, Gnani also authored 50 books.
Kovai Gnani died in Coimbatore
Kovai Gnani died in Coimbatore
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Kovai Gnani, famous Tamil writer and literary critic, passed away on Wednesday at his house in Coimbatore. He was 85 years old.

According to reports, Gnani died around 11.15 am on Wednesday due to age-related illnesses. A writer who authored around 50 books, Gnani was born K Palaniswami in 1935. He studied Tamil literature in Annamalai University and worked as a teacher for over 30 years. He was one of the greatest Tamil Marxist critiques of his times, and researched and wrote about Marxism for over 40 years. He was also a mentor for several Tamil writers of modern times.

A well-known face in the Vanambadi poetry movement in Coimbatore, Gnani also founded several platforms to showcase Tamil literature. He also ran ‘little magazines’ by the titles Parimanam, Nigazh and Tamizhneyam with the help of his friends, which reflected the multiple standpoints of Marxism. Though he has written over 25 books that delve into the Marxist perspective, he kept away from Communist party members, according to his official website. “He is always concerned with Tamil Virtue (Aram) and the Tamil way of thinking. In his view, Tamil Virtue implies equality and socialism. We can easily call Gnani a Tamil Marxist,” the website adds.

Gnani received several awards during his lifetime for his outstanding contributions to Tamil literature and intellectual research on Marxism. He was awarded the Pudumaipithan Vilakku Award in 1998 and Parithimar Kalaignar Tamil Scholar Award in 2013 for the best research book on Tamil conferred by the Tamil Perayam of SRM Institute of Science and Technology. He was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 by Tamil Literary Garden, a Toronto-based organisation that promotes Tamil literature across the world.

The writer reportedly lost his eyesight in 1988 due to diabetes. However, he continued his work in literature with the help of an assistant. He lost his wife Indrani to cancer in 2012. He is survived by two sons – Pari Vallal and Madhavan.

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