Nanjil Nadan is one of my favorite writers in Tamil. I haven't read his novels which are supposed to be his best works. I have read and re read his short stories many times. He was born in Kanyakumari district, started his career in Bombay and later settled in Coimbatore. Reading his collection of short stories is almost like reading his autobiography.
His portrayal of his native Kanyakumari district is on par with R.K. Narayan's Malgudi. He sticks to what he knows, observes and feels and doesn't stray into derived literature fads. His take on Post Modernist writing in Tamil - “… பக்கத்து எலையிலேருந்து ரசம் ஓடி நம்ம எலைக்கு வாறதுல்லா அது? செரி போட்டுன்னு வக்கலாம்னா நாம சாப்பிடுகது பாயசம் பாத்துக்கிடுங்க…..” Food is a common motif in his works. His description of food will transport you to the kalyana pandhi itself.
Of late I travel often through Nagercoil and have a chance to see the places I have read in his short stories. I consider his short story Edalakkudi Rasa as one of his best, so felt a sense of thrill when I first saw the sign board in Nagercoil. This happens to many a reader - the sense of elation on identifying a locale of a favorite story.
This post has been a long delayed one. The immediate trigger was my lunch yesterday. I was eating Vegetable Briyani in a road side hotel near Tirunelveli when I saw the name board of the hotel. What are the chances that I would eat Vegetable Briyani in Manakkavalam Pillai nagar? For those who haven't read the short story Manakkavalam Pillaiyum Vegetable Briyaniyum (which I assume is a large part of those who read this blog) it won't make sense. Unlike the protagonist of that short story, I lived to write this post.
Jeyamohan's 5 part article on Nanjil Nadan