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A. Madhavan

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இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: ஆ. மாதவன்

A. Madhavan (February 7, 1934 – January 5, 2021) was a Tamil writer born and raised in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. He was one of the pioneers of realist writing in Tamil modern literature. He has written short stories, novels, essays, translations and has edited magazines. Furthermore, he was acclaimed by readers and critics alike as the storyteller of the market street, for bringing to his works the everyday events of the bazaar where he lived.

He was the recipient of the 2016 Sahitya Academy Award for his book Illakkiya Chuvadukal (Literary Traces).

Birth, education

A. Madhavan was born on February 7, 1934, in Thiruvananthapuram, the fourth son of the Avudainayakam and Sellammal couple. Born with three elder brothers, one younger brother and a younger sister.

A. Madhavan's father's hometown was Sengottai, Tenkasi district and his mother belonged to Nagercoil, Kanniyakumari district. During the time of Madhavan's grandfather, when these two towns were under Travancore, A. Madhavan's family migrated to Trivandrum(Thiruvananthapuram). His father was a small businessman in Chala market, Thiruvananthapuram.

His education began in Chala Malayalam M. M. School, and he did not continue his education after high school. Later, he started a business. Until the age of 75, he ran a utensil shop called Selvi Stores in the Trivandrum Chala market.

Personal Life

A. Madhavan married Shantha alias Surya Kumari in 1966. They had two daughters, Kalaiselvi and Malarselvi, and a son, Govindarajan. His wife died in 2002 and his son in 2004. Madhavan lived with his daughter.

Literary Contribution

Being taught in Malayalam through out his school, he learned Tamil out of his personal interest. A novella by the French novelist Victor Hugo, 'The Last Day of a Condemned Man' was published in Malayalam under the title Kazhumaram. It was translated into Tamil by A. Madhavan. In 1955, the journal Sirukathai published the story. This was his first work in print. The journal Sirukathai subsequently published his various translations.

In 1974, A. Madhavan released his first collection of short stories, Moga Pallavi. It was published by Chennai Kalaingan Publisher. It was followed by his first novel, Punnalum Manalum, published in the same year, which was the story of a family digging sand from the Karamana river. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy's Reader Circle published this novel in 1974.

Apart from these, collections of short stories like Kadai Therukkathaikal, Kaminimoolam, Madhavan Kathaikal, Anaichandam and Arabiyakuthirai were published. His stories Nayanam, Poonai, Pathinallu Muri, Pura Muttai, Thaneerand Annakkili are notable.

The novella Ettam Naal (Eighth day) was widely spoken of in Madhavan's works. It portrays the last days of the diseased Sallai Pattani, who remained as a convict all his life and suffered, until the end.

He has also written the novels Krishnaparundu and Thoovanam. Of these, Krishnaparundu is considered one of the most important novels in modern Tamil literature.

A. Madhavan was also a major contributor to Tamil as a translator. In 1974, he translated the novella Sammanam written by Karur Neelakandapillai into Tamil. He translated P. K. Balakrishnan's novel published by Sahitya Academy in 2002, Ini Gyan Urangatte under the title Ini Naan Urangattum (Let me sleep now) in Tamil. Likewise, he had also translated Malayattoor Ramakrishnan's novel Yakshi in Tamil.

In 1981, He was a member of the editorial board of Na. Parthasarathy's Deepam Literary Magazine.

Government of Tamil Nadu awarded A. Madhavan Kalaimamani Award in 2007. He was the recipient of the first Vishnupuram Literary Award launched in 2010 and the Sahitya Akademi Award 2015 for his review essay Illakkiya Chuvadukal.

When the Vishnupuram Award was presented in 2010, the Vishnupuram Literary Circle published a book reviewing his literary world, entitled Kadaitheruvin Kazhaigan (The Artist of the Bazaar Street).

Literary Significance

Due to his family circumstances, he entered the business soon after finishing school. Yet, he was filled with literary curiosity and seeking.

He was an avid reader during his school days. The books and magazines available to read during that period made him a storyteller, as Madhavan mentioned.

Most of his early works were published in newspapers and magazines related to Dravidian movement. But there were no political inclinations in his works. He wrote mostly from the perspective of social reform. He later switched to realist writing at the instigation of his literary friends.

Furthermore, he spent most of his life as a merchant in Trivandrum Chala market. He brought into his literary works everything that attracted his attention-the diverse human beings, animals, objects that lived there. A. Madhavan was known as the narrator of the Bazaar Street.

A. Madhavan was more interested in writings that brought forward very intrinsic feelings like hunger, sexuality, and anger. He believed that images of every sorrow, meaning, and meaninglessness of life can be seen in these streets. And thus A. Madhavan embodied the qualities to realistically bring the lives of the downtrodden in his literary writing. He gave a valuable and honorific place for the accent of mixed Tamil and Malayalam language in the literary world.

Madhavan was not only a writer but also an elite literary reader. He continued to be interested in contemporary literatures. Despite being a savvy businessman, he was always a writer who never spoke out serious criticisms.

Many of A. Madhavan's works contained sexually explicit materials. Despite the criticism, Madhavan considered them to be social evils and are to be written about. A. Madhavan was not interested in politics, Ideologies, and principles. He disliked preaching in his literary works.

With the development of the Thiruvananthapuram Tamil Sangam, which is the largest library and cultural arena in the city with over a thousand books, A. Madhavan's role was momentous. Launched in 1978, as its Sangam publication, Kerala Tamil became the literary face of Kerala's Tamil life. It was published with A. Madhavan as the editor, carrying the works and memories of various leading writers.

Awards, texts

  • Sirukathai Selvar- a title awarded by Shenbagam Literary Society—1977
  • Tirupur Tamil Sangam's Best Short Story Book Award (Arabiyakuthirai)—1994
  • Ulloor Parameswara Iyer Memorial Prize for Translations—2002
  • Kanyakumari District Tamil Writers' Association Award—Tamil Mamani Award—2003
  • Kalaimamani Award, Government of Tamil Nadu—2007
  • Vishnupuram Literary Circle presents Vishnupuram Award to Tamil Creators—2010
  • Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award—2015


Madhavan passed away on January 5, 2021, in Trivandrum at the age of 86.


Short Story Collections
  • Mogapallavi—1974, Chennai Kazhaigan Publishing
  • Kadaitheru Kathaigal- 1974
  • KaminiMoolam—1975, Chennai Kazhaigan Publishing
  • Madhavan Stories—1984
  • Aanaichandam-1990
  • Arabiya Kuthirai—1995
  • A. Madhavan Stories Complete Collection (Contains 72 Stories)—2002, Tamilini Publishing
  • A. Madhavan Stories Complete Collection (Contains 66 Stories)—2016, Nattrinai Publishing
  • Punallum Manalum—1974, Reader Circle
  • Krishnapparundu—1982
  • Thoovanam—1990
Article collection
  • Illakkiya Chuvadugal - 2015
  • Yakshi [by Yakshishi, Malayattoor Ramakrishnan]
  • Ini Naan Urangattum (Let me sleep now) [Source Ini gyan Urangatte, PK Balakrishnan] - 2002
  • Sammanam [by Karur Neelakandappillai]—1974


✅Finalised Page