Monday, December 13, 2010

Ki. Rajanarayanan, Sahitya Academy award winner

Ki. Rajanarayanan (Kammavar from Kovilpatti) popularly known by Tamil initials as Ki. Ra., is a Tamil folklorist and author from India.

Ki. Ra.'s first published short story was Mayamaan (lit. The Magical Deer), which came out in 1958. It was an immediate success. It was followed by many more short stories. Ki Ra's stories are usually based in karisal kaadu (scorched, drought stricken land around Kovilpatti ). He centers his stories around Karisal country's people, their lives, beliefs, struggles and folklore. The novels Gopalla Grammam (lit. Gopalla Village) and its sequel Gopallapurathu Makkal (lit. The People of Gopallapuram) are among his most acclaimed; he won the Sahitya Akademi award for the later in 1991. As a folklorist, Ki. Ra. spent decades collecting folktales from the karisal kaadu and publishing them in popular magazines. In 2007, the Thanjavur based publishing house Annam compiled these folktales into a 944-page book, the Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam (Collection of Country Tales). As of 2009, he has published around 30 books. A selection of these were translated into English by Pritham K. Chakravarthy and published in 2009 as Where Are You Going, You Monkeys? -- Folktales from Tamil Nadu. Ki. Ra. is well known for his candid treatment of sexual topics, and use of the spoken dialect of Tamil language for his stories (rather than its formal written form). In 2003, his short story kidai was made into a Tamil film titled Oruthi. It was screened in the International Film Festival of India.


Rajanarayanan was born in Idaicheval Chathirapatti village near Kovilpatti in 1922. His full name was "Rayangala Shri Krishna Raja Narayana Perumal Ramanujam Naicker", which he shortened to Ki. Rajanarayanan. He dropped out of school in the seventh standard. He was appointed as a professor of folklore at Pondicherry University in the 1980s. He currently holds the title of Director of Folktales in the university's Documentation and Survey Centre. He was a member of the Communist Party of India and went to prison twice for his participation and support in the CPI organized peasant rebellions during 1947-51.
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