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25th July 1999

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Will he continue to shock and jerk the reader?

By M. Mahasenan

First, the shock.

"I appear like a woman but in fact I am not," she said.

"My husband? He is a man only in his appearance," continues the main character in one of K.S.Sivakumaran's short stories.

The punchline (or anticlimax?) comes at the end. (Remember it is written in the early '60s)

"I know she is lying..," the narrator goes on.

K.S. Sivakumaran is not new to Tamil literary clubs in the country. He has been writing on various literary topics since his teens, kicking off from the Thinakaran platform in the late '50s.

Sivakumaran is a multifaceted literary man. "I am more of a literary critic and historian than a creative writer," he claims. But his collection of short stories shows Sivakumaran, the creative artiste.

Talking to him draws you into the realm of less trodden Tamil literary lanes of Sri Lanka.

Interesting. A wealth of the Tamil and English literary knowledge.

No wonder he was asked to write on Sri Lankan Tamil literature to the Encyclopaedia of 20th Century Literature.

No wonder he's been the Editor of many Tamil newspapers here. Founder Editor-in-Chief Navamani, Associate Editor Virakesari, Deputy Features Editor The Island, the list goes on.

Apart from being a senior journalist he has more than a dozen books, mostly writings on literature and performing arts, to his credit. His literary work stretches from creative writing to being a judge of Tamil performing arts.

His importance perhaps rests on the fact that he is the only one who has been making some noise about the Tamil literary scene in English here. An important work indeed, in a society that has become sectarian.

His latest book, a collection of short stories,Irumai has about 15 short stories. Most of them were written in the early days of his career. Obviously they are immature.

But many of them, unfortunately, rely on the element of shock to jerk the reader, and the heavy emphasis on sex and things-like-that for the purpose. Imagine the furore they would have created in those days, in a strict conservative society like the Tamil and Muslim!

But it is also sad to see that his creative muse is not given enough vent.

His style in these stories is lucid and reminds us of the old school of writers like Vaidiylingam, et al. But it is down to earth with Sinhala and English slang capturing the reality of the times. The collection is enjoyable.

Will he write more short stories?

Three books in Tamil written by K.S. Sivakumaran will be launched on Wednesday, July 28 at the Ramakrishna Hall, Wellawatte at 4 pm. His new books are Irumai (Duality), Moondru Nootranduhalin Munnodich Chinthanaihal ( Three centuries of Western philosophical thinking), Eelaththu Navalhalit Chila; Thiranaivu (Critical notes on Sri Lankan Tamil novels). Kalasuri R. Sivagurunathan will chair the event.

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