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Murugan glows as book over controversy rages on Murugan glows as book over controversy rages on

Jan-16-2015 | 0 Comments

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CHENNAI: Perumal Murugan is not the first Tamil novelist who has landed in a controversy. Janaki Raman's 'Amma Vanthal' (1966), about a mother's alleged illicit affair with a landowner, poet Salma's fiction 'Irandaam Jaamangali Kathai' (Story of the Midnight) published in 2004 and Thoppil Mohamed Meeran's book 'Saiva Narkali' (Reclining Chair) in 1997 have had their share of controversies. But, with much less media attention on those episodes, the embers died down sooner than later.

Only K Senthil Mallar's book 'Meendezhum Pandiyar Valalaru' (Resurgence of Pandiya history) about a Dalit community of Pallars claiming to be among rulers of the Pandya kingdom has stirred more controversy with the Tamil Nadu government in 2013 banning it apprehending violence and social discord, say publishers.

At the Chennai Book Fair, Arunachalam P, owner of the Meenkashi Book House, holds with him five of the last remaining copies of the novel. "They're selling fast," says Arunachalam. "I had 25 copies with me three days ago; now I have five," says Arunachalam. Attendants at other stalls of the book fair copies were removed after Murugan urged his publishers, Kalachuvadu, Nattrinai, Adayalam, Malaigal and Kayalkavin, not to sell his work.

Kannan Sundaram, managing director of Kalachuvadu Pathippagam, which published Murugan's controversial book, says while in the last four years only 3,000 copies of the book were sold, in the last month more than 2,000 copies went off the shelves. "He has never been one of my best-selling authors. But after the controversy, I have had all the copies sold out," says Kannan. He adds that the two sequels to 'Madhorubhagan'-- 'Aalavaayan' and 'Ardhaanaari' -- which take the open-ended first part towards two different conclusions - have also completely sold out after a 1000-copy print run.

On Wednesday, at the Kalachuvadu Pathippagam stall, Kannan put up posters of Murugan, for people to express their solidarity with the author. There were more than 30 signatures on the board within an hour. "There were several people just walking in and picking up the book just to show their solidarity with Murugan and for the freedom of expression," says Kannan.

Apparently buckling under pressure, Book Sellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) secretary K S Pugalendi, appealed to all outfits not to use book fair premises to host any protest. In a release he said the police department has given permission to BAPASI only to conduct the book fair and not to hold or host any other programme.


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