DALIT ILAKIAMUM AARASIYALUM: Yalini Munisamy; Iruvadchi, 41, Kalyanasundaram Street, Perambur, Chennai 600011. Rs.70.

DALIT LITERATURE in Tamil is of recent origin and evolved in the past two decades. This book is a collection of verses of 12 well-known poets. They include Aranka Malliga, Alagiya Periyavan, Sukirtharani, Ithayavendan, Muthukanthan, Anpathavan, Mathivanan, Rajkumar and Gunasekeran.

The contents represent almost a new literature and politics in Tamil. The words used in the verses are not in normal literature. Poet Ithayavendan recites the anger of the exploited and the oppressed over generations thus: “Boiling blood and feelings in flames.”

The second section comprises articles by A. Marx and K. Kesavan on the exploitation of Dalits and their oppressed status in society. The third part is a review of Sivakami’s popular Dalit novel “Palayana Kalithalum”. In it a Dalit widow, Thankam, working in a farm is seduced by the farm owner. She is then beaten up by the upper caste people and caste violence follows.

Most of the poets and writers featured in the book are from the oppressed community. There is a school of thought that the truth of life is spelt out in literature only through “lived experience”. This collection is a specific example.