Jaipur, Jan 27 (PTI) Anything that is written in an Indian language should qualify as Indian literature rather than being dubbed as regional literature, acclaimed Tamil writer Perumal Murugan said Sunday.
Murugan, 53, asked if writings in other languages were regional literature what qualified then as the mainstream literature.
“I don’t like to qualify it as regional literature. It’s so sad. If this is regional, then what is the mainstream literature? Is it English?” he asked.
“Anything that is written about Indian life and in an Indian language should be part of the Indian literature rather than being dubbed as regional literature. That would make perfect sense,” he said at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
Murugan, who writes in Tamil, declared his writing “dead” in 2015 after he was harassed and attacked by right-wing groups.
He participated in a discussion at JLF on his comeback novel “Poonachi” (The Story Of A Black Goat) which is a fable about a goat that tells a story of humans, love and freedom.
Echoing Murugan’s views, his English translator for “Poonachi” N Kalyan Raman said many of the Indian languages had already become international languages.
“Bengali is spoken in Bengal. Tamil is an official language in India, Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka,” he said.
Talking about writing, Murugan said creative writing was all about a quest for the unknown and drew an interesting analogy between writing and farming.
He emphasised that both are essentially same in “creating a new life”.
“There are many things in nature which are hidden and remain a secret, but they remain a secret so far as we are not aware of them, the act of creative writing is to discover what is still unknown. It is a quest for the unknown. In a certain sense even the goal of humans is part of nature. The secret of human life can be revealed through writing,” he said.
Known for his fine connection with the land and giving so evocative a flavour of the landscape to the readers that they can smell the dust, Murugan said his stories were woven out of elements of nature.
Murugan who said he would have been a farmer if not a writer compared farming with creative writing.
“I come from a family of farmers. Farming is akin to creative writing. Unless you have a creative bent of mind, you can’t do farming. All the processes involved in farming – from preparing the soil, sowing the seed, nurturing and harvesting – are same as in writing.
“Farming is essentially creating a new life in a creative way. This is the basis of my writing. The ability to create a new life,” he said.
Noting that writing is a wonderful way to express yourself, Murugan said he had always liked literature which is why he also studied it.
“I don’t write every day. But something keeps going on in my head. Writing keeps forming itself inside my head. I need a space and time, only then can I write,” he said.
The controversial writer said although he was not a political chronicler, yet his writing was not free from politics.
“I am not a writer who writes overtly about politics. I even look at politics through the literary lens. But nothing is free of politics and therefore when I write, politics is embedded in it just as it is embedded in everything we do,” he said.
“Poonachi” is Murugan’s first novel after his self-imposed literary silence in January 2015.
He gave up writing after protests against his novel “Madhorubhagan” (One Part Woman) set in his hometown.
Local groups led protests against the book, saying the “fictitious” extramarital sex ritual at the centre of the plot insulted the town, its temple and its women.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.