Chelva Kanaganayakam

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Chelva Kanaganayakam
Native name செல்வா கனகநாயகம்
Born C. Kanaganayakam
(1952-05-07)May 7, 1952
Colombo, Ceylon
Died November 22, 2014(2014-11-22) (aged 62)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alma mater
Occupation Academic

Professor Chelvanayakam Kanaganayakam (Tamil: செல்வநாயகம் கனகநாயகம்; May 7, 1952 – November 22, 2014) was a Tamil Canadian translator, author and academic.

Early life and family[edit]

Kanaganayakam was born on May 7, 1952 in Colombo, Ceylon.[1][2] He was the son of V. Chelvanayakam, head of the Department of Tamil at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, and Kamalambikai.[1][2][3][4] He was educated at Trinity College, Kandy.[5] After school Kanaganayakam joined the University of Sri Lanka Peradeniya campus but following Osmund Jayaratne's "re-organisation" of universities, he and other language and literature students were moved to the university's campus in Kelaniya.[1][6] He graduated in 1976 with a B.A. degree in English language and literature.[1][2][3][7]

Kanaganayakam was married to Thirumagal.[1][2][4] They had a daughter (Shankary) and a son (Jegan).[1][2][4]


Kanaganayakam was a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Jaffna before joining the University of British Columbia on a Commonwealth scholarship, receiving a Ph.D. degree in 1985 after producing a thesis, supervised by W. H. New, on the writings of Zulfikar Ghose.[1][2][3][7] Kanaganayakam joined the University of Toronto's Department of English in 1989 to research and teach Commonwealth literature.[1][2][7] Appointed a professor in 2002, he went on to become director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and co-ordinator of the independent studies program at Trinity College, Toronto.[1][2][3][7]

Kanaganayakam was a founding member of the Tamil Literary Garden and the Toronto Tamil Studies Conference.[1][2][3] On the morning of November 22, 2014 Kanaganayakam was inducted to the Royal Society of Canada as a fellow in Quebec City.[1][2][3][7] That evening, as he went to a celebratory dinner in Montreal, he suffered a heart attack and passed away.[1][2][3][7]


Kanaganayakam wrote, translated and edited several books:[3]

  • Structures of Negation: The Writings of Zulfikar Ghose (1993, University of Toronto Press)[6][7]
  • Configuartions of Exile: South Asian Writers and Their World (1995, TSAR Publications)[7][8]
  • Dark Antonyms and Paradise: The Poetry of Rienzi Crusz (1997, TSAR Publications)[6][7]
  • Lutesong and Lament: Tamil Writing from Sri Lanka (2001, TSAR Publications, editor)[1][8]
  • Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction (2002, Wilfrid Laurier University Press)[1][7]
  • Moveable Margins: The Shifting Spaces of Canadian Literature (2005, TSAR Publications, editor)
  • History and Imagination: Tamil Culture in the Global Context (2007, co-editors R. Cheran & Darshan Ambalavanar)[1][9]
  • New Demarcations: Essays in Tamil Studies (2009, Brown Bear Press, co-editors R. Cheran & Darshan Ambalavanar)[9]
  • Wilting Laughter: Three Tamil Poets (2009, translator)[8][10]
  • Nedunalvaadai (2010)
  • You Cannot Turn Away (2010, translator)[11]
  • Ritual (2011, translator)[10]
  • World Without Walls: Being Human, Being Tamil (2011, co-editor)[9]
  • In Our Translated World: Contemporary Global Tamil Poetry (2013, TSAR Publications, editor)[1][7]
  • A History of South Asian Writing in English (2014, Cambridge University Press)[7]
  • Uprooting the Pumpkin: Selections from Sri Lankan Tamil Literature, 1950-2012 (2016, Oxford University Press, editor)[1]