Book Review: ‘The Tamil Story’ by Dilip Kumar and Subashree Krishnaswamy

"Journey through a century of Tamil life with 88 timeless stories."

Book Title: The Tamil Story: Through the Times, Through the Tides
Editor: Dilip Kumar
Translator: Subashree Krishnaswamy
Publisher: Eka
Number of Pages: 606
ISBN: 978-8196011819
Date Published: Jan. 16, 2024
Price: INR 728

The Tamil Storyby Dilip Kumar Book Cover

Book Review

The Tamil Story: Through the Times, Through the Tides”, edited by Dilip Kumar and translated by Subashree Krishnaswamy, is a seminal anthology that brings together eighty-eight short stories spanning nearly a century. This collection traces the evolution of the Tamil short story, offering readers a panoramic view of Tamil life across different eras. The stories, sourced from a variety of publications including little-known magazines, out-of-print editions, and contemporary literary journals, are penned by both renowned and lesser-known authors. This anthology provides a unique blend of realism and fantasy, folklore and myth, irony and pathos, making it a treasure trove for anyone interested in Tamil literature.

Dilip Kumar, a celebrated Tamil short story writer whose mother tongue is Gujarati, has a rich background in literature with multiple accolades. His meticulous efforts in compiling this anthology involved an extensive search through Tamil publications, ensuring a comprehensive representation of the genre. Kumar’s expertise is complemented by Subashree Krishnaswamy, an editor, translator, and writer with a deep understanding of South Indian literature. Together, they have crafted a collection that reflects the diverse aesthetic and political perspectives of Tamil short stories, offering readers both historical context and literary variety.

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The anthology is an immersive experience, allowing readers to travel through different Tamil worlds with each story. It covers a wide array of themes, from rural life and urban poverty to caste consciousness and electoral politics. Stories like Ki Rajnarayan’s “The Chair” and Na Muthuswamy’s “Ghee Stain” showcase the nuanced depiction of rural settings, while tales like Pudumaippittan’s “The Great Graveyard” and Ashokamitran’s “Tiger Artiste” provide a gritty look at urban landscapes and the cinematic world. These stories capture the essence of Tamil life, making the anthology a valuable cultural document.

The translation by Krishnaswamy pays meticulous attention to the language, preserving the flavor of the original Tamil while making it accessible to English readers. The dialogue often retains a Tamil-English tone, enhancing the authenticity of the stories. This strategy, though experimental, works well in immersing readers in the Tamil universe. Overall, “The Tamil Story: Through the Times, Through the Tides” is a must-read for anyone interested in Tamil literature. It is a testament to the rich literary heritage of Tamil Nadu and offers an insightful glimpse into the lives of its people across different times.

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