Opinion divided over whether leading journals are giving enough space for serious literature

Even though thousands of titles in Tamil come out annually, many of which are of serious and creative works, one issue that has been bothering several writers is over the degree of attention being paid by the mainstream Tamil media, especially leading periodicals, to such literary efforts.

Sa. Kandasamy, veteran Tamil writer and the Sahitya Akademi winner for 1998, says Tamil journals, which otherwise follow and capture trends in various fields such as travel, technology, self-improvement and spiritualism apart from cinema, do not display adequate interest in serious literary writing.  

[R.S. Shanmugam, immediate past president of the Booksellers and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI), which has been conducting the Chennai Book Fair for the last 35 years, says that on an average, 7,000 titles in Tamil are published every year.]

Amshan Kumar, writer-film maker, echoing the opinion of Kandasamy, feels that it was only in the last 15 years or so that such a trend had become more apparent. Besides, the journals do not carry review of such books. N. Kalyan Raman, who translated Tamil works of various writers into English, says the trend coincides with the advent of neo-liberal economic reforms in the country.  

However, this opinion is strongly contested by representatives of the Tamil journals.  Ra. Kannan, editor of ‘Ananda Vikatan,’ says his magazine has been providing a platform not just to established writers, including Jeyamohan, S. Ramakrishnan, Vannadasan and Nanjil Nadan, but also to a new crop of writers such as Rajamurugan and Mari Chellamuthu.  It has also spotted a number of talented poets.  

R. Venkatesh, editor of ‘Kalki,’ says his magazine, traditionally known for promoting good literature, continues to perform that role.

Kannan (also known as S.R. Sundaram), who runs a publishing house – Kalachuvadu Pathipagam [besides being the editor of a magazine by that name], supports their view and says that the leading, popular magazines do give space to serious writing and this has gone up in recent years. Readers also respond to such writing.  

One interesting trend is that many magazines are also bringing out books, which may give rise to a conflict of interest for them to write about those titles published by others. But, the editor of Ananda Vikatan – Mr Ra. Kannan –  says his magazine has not faced this problem. In fact, the criticism he has faced is that Ananda Vikatan does not carry reviews of books produced by its publication wing.  Mr. Kannan of Kalachuvadu adds that in the years to come, in Tamil too, there is going to be a convergence of several mediums – journals/newspapers, book publishing and television.

Masilamani Nandan of Kalaignan Pathipagam has an entirely different take.  Social medium sites are performing more effective role in publicising about new arrivals, apart from providing enormous space for any kind of writing, including the serious variety. [In fact, Mr Kalyan Raman too acknowledges that one can gather information regarding new books on the internet]. Increasingly, the present-day youth, being more technology savvy, keep themselves abreast of the developments through such sites. Referring to what appears in various Tamil blogs, Mr. Nandan likens them to an uncontrolled river .  

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