CHENNAI: Except for more recognition, no major changes have come about in life after the Akademi Award, says Prapanchan, whose real name is Sarangapani Vaidyalingam. He got the award in 1995 for his novel Vaanam Vasappadum.
The award brought him more fame at the national-level. Barring this, everything has been same, he says. The writer, who hails from the family of toddy-tappers, says he cares less about the sudden acclaim and accolades the award brought as his life has remained a struggle for him. Prapanchan, who worked for numerous publications like Kunkumam and Vikadan turned a full-time writer in 1990, yet he doesn’t stand to get much of it.
“You cannot make a living out of writing, especially in Tamil,” he says, adding, “I got the financial support from his father till his death and my family always stood by me in times of difficulties.” On the new generation writers, he says that while the authors of the older generation struggled to get recognition, the present day writers get it after just two or three years into writing. The technology and rise in the standard of living make this possible, says Prapanchan.
But the writer laments that the Tamil writers are not getting the same kind of acceptance or acclaim as those of Bengali or Malayalam writers. “In Bengal or Kerala, their literary figures are discussed threadbare even in small tea shops whereas here even our university professors do not know the names of the Tamil writers,” he bemoans.
He says Vaanam Vasappadum, a history novel, was written based on the diaries of Anadarangam Pillai, who was a dubash at the French East India Company. It is about the struggle of Dasis, converted Dalits and the downtrodden, he adds.
The award is just an honour and does not increase the sales of a book, opines Prabanjan.
He, however, says the award does announce to the world that the winner of the award is a significant writer in that language.