RK Narayan inspired me to write about my own life: Author Perumal Murugan
It was reading renowned writer R K Narayan that made author Perumal Murugan turn to his own life for inspiration.
The Tamil writer, who was speaking at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, said he felt his life was just as “ordinary” and “interesting” as the world created by the writer of Swami and Friends.
“I read ‘Swami and Friends’ by R K Narayan in Tamil, and I thought to myself -- this is a perfectly ordinary life, what is the big deal, this is my life everyday, how does he have so many words and so many pages to say about my life and then one day I thought maybe it means my life is interesting as well, maybe I should start writing about my life as well,” Murugan said.
One of his earlier works, translated into English as Seasons of the Palm, he added, was inspired by Narayan’s writings. Talking about the changes his writing process had undergone over the years, the author of “One Part Woman” said that while initially he wrote for the people who could identify with the milieu of his stories, now he writes for those who have never known his world. “When I first began to write in Tamil, I wrote for the people who knew this world I was writing about. Today I write for the people who don’t know this world. And even if to them, it’s like ‘the other’ experience, that is ok, because I want them to learn about the world outside their own world,” the 54-year-old author said.
Murugan also said that writing about a world you know well can also be “dangerous”, because then one starts taking it for granted at times.
“There are many dangers as well in writing about the world that you know. While it is good to know the world you are writing about, at the same time you sometimes take it for granted. And unless someone from the outside tells you that it’s great, you never realise it for yourself,” the writer noted.
He added that writing in Tamil, his mother tongue, gives his books a certain duality.
“Tamil is not just one language. It is actually two languages, written Tamil is very different from spoken Tamil. That’s why it is almost as if I am writing the narrative in one language, and the dialogues are in a completely different language,” he said.
While Murugan’s books have been translated from Tamil into English and several other languages, the author revealed that he writes keeping his Tamil audience in mind.
“I write in Tamil and then it gets translated into English and other languages. If I started thinking about those readers (of the translations), then I won’t be able to write in my language at all,” he said.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)