He was 98 and was suffering from age-related ailments.

Ki Rajanarayanan in an interview or press meetShrutiTV/Screengrab
news Death Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 08:54

Popular writer Ki Rajanarayanan, or ‘Ki Ra’ as he is known, passed away late on Monday night in Puducherry. Known for his immense contribution to Tamil literature, Ki Ra was 98 and was suffering from age-related ailments and tuberculosis, as per reports. A Sahitya Akademi winner, Ki Ra was born in Idaiseval, a small village near Kovilpatti. He moved to Puducherry in 1989, after he was appointed as the Professor of Tamil folklore in Pondicherry University. Ki Ra was an exponent in narrating folklore and stories from the arid regions of Tamil Nadu and won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1991 for his novel Gopallapurathu Makkal. The novel is a depiction of the lives of Telugu people who had migrated to southern Tamil Nadu. The novel was recently spoken about again after actor-politician Kamal Haasan called it a ‘must read’ in Bigg Boss, which he hosts.

Ki Ra’s focus was on recording lives of the people living in rural areas in the dry regions of Tamil Nadu with immense realism and is considered the pioneer of ‘Karisal ilakkiyam’ genre of Tamil literature. He dropped out of school early and published his first short story only after he was 30-years-old, in 1959. He has published over 30 books in his lifetime. In an interview to The Hindu in the auspices of his 97th birthday, Ki Ra reiterated that the spoken form of Tamil (including the dialects) was the correct form of the language. “Language had no letters when man started speaking it. Do we interact with our children in written form? We also do not use the written form of the language in our day-to-day conversation. Then why should we follow a written form of a language in writing,” Ki Ra had asked in the interview.

During his time at Pondicherry university, he recorded and wrote 200 folk stories, which were published as Naattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam. His other work includes novels Gopalla Gramam, Karisal Kaatu Kaduthaasi and Andaman Naicker, all of which were very well-received. Condolences poured in from various quarters after the news of his death became public. 

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