CHENNAI: At a time when real literary talents are ignored while writers with political links seem to get the awards, an initiative by a group of readers of veteran Tamil writer B Jayamohan holds out hope for those languishing in anonymity. They have instituted the Vishnupuram Award (named after the writer’s famous novel in Tamil) and earlier this week picked up its first recipient — a prolific Tamil writer called A Madhavan, who runs a small provision shop in Chalai market of Thiruvananthapuram.
The idea came up when during a discussion, one of his readers, K V Arangkasami, asked, “Why are we fighting with these academies? Let us start giving away our own award.” Soon Vishnupuram Readers’ Forum, a voluntary organisation of readers of Jayamohan to promote literary debates, was born. “We organise literary meetings and symposiums on Tamil literature. But this is the first award,” says K V Arangkasami, organiser of the forum, based in Coimbatore.
Started in 2009, the forum now has members from all over the country as well as abroad. “The award money is actually a contribution from readers all over the world. Our motto is to honour senior Tamil writers who have so far not received any recognition. We also want to promote Tamil fiction, which is not getting the recognition it deserves,” says Arangkasami.
What makes the group different is the way the award is organised. Besides the cash award of Rs 50,000 and a memento, a book on the author will also be published for the occasion. And why Madhavan? “Madhavan has a unique literary track record. Since he is a small shopkeeper in Chalai, a majority of his stories are woven around that place. He exposes the underbelly with sharp wit and perfect natural lines. As a narrator of sex, hunger and violence, he has a totally ideology-free view,” says Jayamohan.
Madhavan has published four short story collections and three novels in Tamil. He is also in touch with the Malayalam literary world, being part of the golden wave of literature created by Takazhi, Dev and Vaikom Muhammad Basheer. “I haven’t received any awards in my life and frankly speaking I am not looking for them. But when a group of readers gives you an award, then it’s special. I take this as a token of recognition from my readers,” says Madhavan.