Tamil Features

Writer Jayakanthan is Dead

Tamil writer D Jayakanthan, who pushed boundaries through his firebrand writing, breathed his last in Chennai yesterday. The 81-year-old was long suffering from an illness.


A stalwart in the Tamil literary field, Jayakanthan has won Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademy awards. Born in Cuddalore in south Arcot district, he ran away from home when the relationship with his father turned sour. He later became a member of the Communist party in Madras. It was CPI leader Jeevanandam who helped him with his education.

He is known for his novels, short-stories and essays about people who live on the fringes of the society. He wrote for magazines like Saraswathi, Thamarai, Grama Uzhiyan and Anantha Vikatan. His language was bold and his ideas were non-conformist. He dared to speak out on issues that none of his contemporaries discussed – women, chastity, religion and fascist political parties in the state.

Some of his works were adapted into films:  Oru Nadigai Nadagam Parkiral, Yaarukkaga Azhudhaan, Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal and Unnaipol Oruvan. 

Noted film critic Baradwaj Rangan, in his blog, said – “Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal is the best of the author’s work that made it to film, and arguably Tamil cinema’s finest literary adaptation of our time.”

Music composer Ilaiyaraaja, in a press release, declared that Jayakanthan was the first person he’d met when he arrived in Chennai along with Bhaskar and Bharathiraja. “He gave us hope when we told him that we had come seeking his assistance,” he added. “Jayakanthan gave voice to the underprivileged through his words. He revolutionized Tamil literature and made himself known in the film industry as well. He was also a ray of hope to emerging writers. He will live in the hearts of Tamilians forever.”

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