Tamil Heritage Month: Books by Tamil Authors

Tamil Heritage Month takes place every January. It is intended to increase awareness and appreciation of the rich history of the Tamil community. To celebrate we have curated a list of books written by Tamil authors.


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Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
(Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

Finalist for the Triangle Awards, Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, 2015 

Shortlisted for the ReLit Award, Poetry, 2016

In Bodymap, Lambda Award-winner Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha sings a queer disabled femme-of-colour love song filled with hard femme poetics and disability justice. In this volume, Leah Lakshmi maps hard and vulnerable terrains of queer desire, survivorhood, transformative love, sick and disabled queer genius and all the homes we claim and deserve.

The Sadness of Geography by Logathasan Tharmathurai (Dundurn Press)

The harrowing journey of a teenage refugee who never gave up on his dream of seeing his family again. Born to a wealthy family in northern Sri Lanka, Logathasan Tharmathurai and his family lost everything during the long and brutal Sri Lankan Civil War. The Sadness of Geography is a moving story of innocence lost, the persecution of an entire people, and the universal quest for a better life.

Uncivil War by Indran Amirthanayagam (Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

Passionate, committed, and deeply humane, these poems bear witness with unflinching honesty to the horrific violence of the Sri Lankan civil war. Indran Amirthanayagam writes poetry and essays in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and journals throughout the world.

World Without Walls edited by R. Cheran, Dalbir Singh, & Chelva Kanaganayakam 
(Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

In the past few decades Tamil has become an important component of the South Asian diaspora. As one of the few classical languages of the world that is still a living one, Tamil continues to remain a vehicle of secularism while celebrating diverse religious and political traditions. It has served Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, and Christianity, while articulating politics from the time of the ancient kings, through colonialism, to modern times. The essays in this volume offer a nuanced view of “Being Human; Being Tamil” in the context of South Asia and the diaspora. They explore the multiple ways of being Tamil, and the cultural, religious, and poetic linkages that have contributed to the emergence and articulation of Tamilness in a global context.

You Cannot Turn Away by R. Cheran, & translated by Chelva Kanaganayakam 
(Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

This book provides, for the first time, a bilingual edition of forty poems by R Cheran. Written over a period of three decades, the poems cover a range of experiences, including love, war, despair, hope, and diaspora. Cheran is considered one of the finest contemporary poets in Tamil, and his poetry is read widely in North America, Europe, and South Asia. Both modernist and unfailingly lyrical, his work is a remarkable blend of tradition and innovation. The forty poems in this volume have been translated and introduced by Chelva Kanaganayakam.

Then There Were No Witnesses by P. Ahilan, & translated by Geetha Sukumaran 
(Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

In recent times, Tamil poetry from Sri Lanka has taken a new turn, serving as a countermemory–a witness to torture, loss, trauma, and exile. Ahilan gives us a unique voice and style, in which he expresses the trauma of the violence in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka with great nuance and subtlety. His background as art historian has allowed him to blend the 2,000-year-old Tamil cultural, literary, and philosophic tradition with visual, graphic imagery to create a rich and distinct body of poetry.

Wilting Laughter translated by R. Cheran, Chelva Kanaganayakam, & Vis Jayapalan 
(Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)

This collection brings together seventy-five poems by three renowned contemporary Tamil poets, whose works stand at the forefront of modern Tamil poetry. All three poets have experienced the pain and dislocation of recent Sri Lankan violence, the rupture of traditional life and the anguish of mass exile, all of which constantly inform their works. Each has created from these experiences a distinct and modern poetics, drawing from the same rich two-thousand-year-old culture.