‘Saayavanam’ author Sa. Kandasamy, 80, passes away

Born in Myladuthurai district in 1940, Kandasamy marked his entry to Tamil literature through his novel 'Saayaavanam' published in 1968

Besides writing, Kandasamy directed documentaries on sculptor Dhanapal, and writers Jayakanthan and Asokamitran. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Well-known Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner Sa. Kandasamy breathed his last on Friday (July 31) in Chennai. He was 80.

Born in Myladuthurai district in 1940, Kandasamy marked his entry to Tamil literature through his novel ‘Saayaavanam’ published in 1968. The National Book Trust listed it as a ‘masterpiece’ in modern literature.

Kandasamy was inspired by Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ and the global environment movement.

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‘Saayaavanam’ was published when the author was 25 and the work spoke of a forest which was at the centre of the lives of a nondescript village.

Kandasamy was deeply influenced by the conservation and pro-nature movements of the decade starting 1960.

In Saayavanam’s narrative, Kandasamy wraps details of over 20 species of birds and nearly 50 species of trees, most of which were known only to the villagers. The novel was later translated into English by Vasantha Surya and it was titled ‘The Defiant Jungle.’

Kandasamy authored more than 20 books and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi for his novel ‘Visaaranai Commission.’ The novel and one of his short stories ‘Thakkaiyin Meedhu Naangu Kangal,’ were adapted into short films by director Vasanth. The latter got the National Award for best short film in 2005.

Besides writing, Kandasamy directed documentaries on sculptor Dhanapal, and writers Jayakanthan and Asokamitran. His documentary on South Indian Terracotta ‘Kaaval Deivangal.’ This was telecast on Doordarshan and fetched first prize in the Angino Film Festival held in Cyprus in 1989.

Kandasamy is survived by his wife, a daughter, and two sons.

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