Literary debate is lost

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VINOD NEDUMUDY
Published Mar 8, 2018, 7:12 am IST
Updated Mar 8, 2018, 7:12 am IST
Perumal Murugan said the controversy over Madhurobhagan proved that casteism remained a reality in our society.
Perumal Murugan
 Perumal Murugan

KOCHI: Controversial Tamil author Perumal Murugan who was among the chief attractions in the Kriti Literary Fest on Wednesday took the occasion to share a very personal undisclosed feeling ….that the literary aspects of his works are neither debated nor seriously appreciated among the high decibels of debates on ideology and humdinger of a controversy.

While interacting with the audience on the topic ‘artist and society’, Murugan did not forget to register this disappointment. He also opined on the sidelines that readers seemed lacking enough practice to read novels. “The temple legend, folklore and the text itself including the literary register of the controversial novel Madhurobhagan...theywere lost in the din of controversy,” Perumal Murugan bemoaned. He said that the ‘us vs them’ debate reduced the discusion  on Madhurobhagan into one on freedom of expression. “But it proved that casteism remained a reality in our society. The casteist elements took themselves to the ‘us’ corner while arraigning those who oppose them to the corner of ‘them’.”

 

 Murugan said a reader cannot insist that a writer write this way or that way. “Then the writer becomes mute.” He quoted George Orwell to say that “If liberty is to mean anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”  His new novel Poonachi tells the tale of a goat becoming a stone. “It is the same animate object becoming inanimate in the face of onslaught,” he says as a throwback to his tumultuous past in the face of attack from casteist elements after Madhurobhagan was released.

He said female infanticide was practised by the rich in Tamil Nadu earlier to avoid property getting divided. “Now they are forced to come to Kerala in search of brides. There are specialised brokers in this regard who put up boards in Tamil villages,” he said.

A native of Namakkal, he had to migrate to Chennai following threats in the wake of the threats over Madhurobhagan and the author said when he returned to Namakkal after a few years, he felt new to the place. 

“Before the controversy, I had the spark to write 10 novels, but then that was gone, I had to rediscover everything slowly,” he said. 

The Malayalam version of his  work Kankanam was released on the occasion. 

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