Ki. Rajanarayanan

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Ki. Rajanarayanan
Born(1923-09-16)16 September 1923
Kovilpatti, Thoothukudi, Madras Presidency, British India
Died14 May 2021(2021-05-14) (aged 97)
Puducherry, India
Pen nameKi. Ra.
GenreShort story, novel
SubjectFolklores, Rural life
Notable works
  • Gopalla Grammam
  • Gopallapurathu Makkal
  • Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam
Notable awards1991: Sahitya Akademi Award
ChildrenDiwakar, Prabhakar

Rayangala Shri Krishna Raja Narayana Perumal Ramanujam Naicker (16 September 1923 – 17 May 2021[1][2]), shortened to Ki. Rajanarayanan and popularly known by his Tamil initials as Ki. Ra., was an Indian Tamil language folklorist and acclaimed writer from Kovilpatti, in Tamil Nadu. Some of his popular works include Gopalla Grammam (transl.Gopalla Village), Gopallapurathu Makkal (transl.The People of Gopallapuram), Mayamaan (transl.The Magical Deer), and Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam (transl.Collection of Country Tales). He was a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991.The Times of India called him the "Guardian of Tamil oral tradition".[3]

Early life[edit]

Rajanarayanan was born on 16 September 1923 in Idaiseval village near Kovilpatti in present-day Thoothukudi district, Tamil Nadu.[4] He was the fifth child of Lakshmi Ammal and Shri Krishna Ramanujam.[5] He suffered from poor health and was afflicted with tuberculosis at an early age. He dropped out of school in the seventh standard.[2][4] He went on to become a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), going to prison twice for his participation and support in the CPI-organised peasant rebellions between 1947 and 1951.[6] He was also named in the Nellai Conspiracy Case of 1952, though the charges were later dropped.[2]


Rajanarayanan began his literary career at the age of 30 and wrote under his Tamil initials Ki. Ra. His first short story "Mayamaan" (transl. "The Magical Deer") was published in the magazine Saraswati in 1959.[2] It was an immediate success.[7][8] It was followed by many more short stories. Ki. Ra.'s stories were usually based in karisal kaadu (transl. scorched, drought stricken land) around his native region of Kovilpatti. The stories are usually centered around Karisal country's people, their lives, beliefs, struggles and folklore.[9] Gopalla Grammam (transl. Gopalla Village) and its sequel Gopallapurathu Makkal (transl. The People of Gopallapuram) were among his most acclaimed novels, with the latter winning him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991.[10] The novel deals with the stories of multiple people living in a village in south India before the arrival of the British. It involves the migration of the Telugu people escaping brutal kingdoms north of Tamil Nadu.[10][11] These books were followed by Andaman Naicker.[2]

As a folklorist, Ki. Ra. spent decades collecting folktales from the karisal kaadu and publishing them in popular magazines. In 2007, the Thanjavur-based publishing house Annam compiled these folktales into a 944-page book, the Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam (transl. collection of country tales). As of 2009, he had published approximately 30 books. A selection of these books were translated into English by Pritham K. Chakravarthy and published in 2009 as Where Are You Going, You Monkeys? – Folktales from Tamil Nadu. Ki. Ra. was also well known for his candid treatment of sexual topics,[11][12] and use of the spoken dialect of Tamil for his stories, rather than its formal written form.[13] He viewed the spoken language as the 'correct' form of the language.[2] In addition to writing stories in the regional dialects, he also was an author of a dictionary of the regional dialect called Karisal Kaatu Sollagarathi (transl. Words of the scorched land). This work was a frontrunner for similar dictionaries for dialects from other regions of the state.[14]

In 1992, his short story Current was made into a Hindi film entitled Current for the National Film Development Corporation of India.[15]

In 2003, his short story kidai was made into a Tamil film entitled Oruththi and was screened at the International Film Festival of India.[16]

He was appointed a professor of folklore at Pondicherry University in the 1980s. He held the title of Director of Folktales in the university's Documentation and Survey Centre.[13][17][18] Between 1998 and 2002 he also served in the general council and the advisory board of the Sahitya Akademi.[19]

He was a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Gopallapurathu Makkal in 1991.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Rajanarayanan was married to Kanavathi Ammal. The couple had two sons.[5] He died on 18 May 2021 due to age-related illness in Puducherry.[19] He was cremated with state honours in his native village of Idaiseval.[20]

Awards and recognition[edit]




  • Tamizhnattu nadodi kathaigal (1966)
  • Tamizhnattu gramiya kathaigal (1977)
  • Thatha chonna kathaigal (1984)
  • Naattupura kathaigal part - 1(1991)
  • Naattupura kathaigal part - 2(1992)
  • Vayathu vanthavargalukku mattum (1992)
  • Kaathil viluntha kathaigal (1992)
  • Puthuvai vattara Naattupura kathaigal (1993)
  • Naattupura paaliyal kathaigal (1994)
  • Penn manam (1995)
  • Peruviral kullan (1998)

Short stories[edit]

  • Kalavu (1965)
  • Kannimai (1975)
  • Appa pillai, Amma pillai (1980)
  • Kidai kurunavalum, pannirandu sirukathaigalum (1983)
  • Karisal kathaigal (1984)
  • Koththai paruththi (1985)
  • Ki.Rajanarayanan kathaigal (1998)


  • Mayamaan (lit. The magical deer) (1958)
  • Gopalla gramam (1976)
  • Pinchukal (1979)
  • Gopallapurathu makkal (1989)
  • Anthaman nayakkar (1995)


  • Karisal kaatu kadidhasi (1988)
  • Ki.Rajanarayanan katturaigal (1991)
  • Puthaga kaathalar (1998)


  • Maantharul oru annaparavai (biographical sketches of Rasigamani) (1981)
  • Vattara valakku sollakarathi (Dictionary) (1982)
  • Ku.Azhagirisamy kadithankal (1987)
  • Makkal Tamil vazhallku (1991)
  • Karisal Kaattu kadudasi – volumes 1&2 (lit. letter from the scorched earth), Agaram (1991)
  • Ki.Rajanarayanan pathilgal (1994)
  • Kadithangal Kadithangal (1998)
  • Maraivai sonna kathaikal (lit. Hidden stories)
  • Oruthi (screenplay)(lit. One woman)(2003)
  • (ed.)Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam (lit. Collection of Country Tales), Annam (2007)
  • Ki. Ra. Natkurippilirundhu (lit. From the diary of Ki. Ra)
  • Vetti


  1. ^ "Writer Ki Rajanarayanan passes away at 98 in Puducherry". The New Indian Express. Chennai. Express News Service. 18 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kolappan, B. (18 May 2021). "Eminent Tamil writer Ki Rajanarayanan is no more". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Guardian of Tamil oral tradition falls silent". The Times of India. 19 May 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Micha Kathaigal in Ki Rajanarayanan's Idaiseval village". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d "Sahitya Akademi - Ki. Ra" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Final rites with full State honours for Ki Rajanarayanan, statue at Kovilpatti: Stalin". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  7. ^ Maalan (21 September 2007). "இன்னும் ஒரு நூறாண்டு இரும்". Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  8. ^ Rajanarayanan, Ki.; Chakravarthy, Pritham K (2009). Where Are You Going, You Monkeys? – Folktales from Tamil Nadu. Chennai, India: Blaft Publications. p. 237. ISBN 978-81-906056-4-9.
  9. ^ PKR (17 August 2004). "Literary criticism". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  10. ^ a b c "Sahitya Akademi Awards 1955–2007". Sahitya Akademi. Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  11. ^ a b Jai Arjun Singh (10 March 2009). "Short, Sweet, and Subversive: Blaft's Tamil Folktales". Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  12. ^ Vijay Nambisan. "Stranger than fiction: Thought-provoking folktales". Deccan Herald. The Printers. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  13. ^ a b Gowri Ramnarayan (17 September 2002). "Master of the Short Story". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. Archived from the original on 1 July 2003. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  14. ^ Kolappan, B. (18 May 2021). "Eminent Tamil writer Ki Rajanarayanan is no more". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Meet the author". Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  16. ^ S. Theodore Baskaran (28 November 2003). "A tale rooted in the soil". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  17. ^ Agrawal, S. P. (1991). Development/digression diary of India: 3D companion volume to Information India 1991–92. Concept Publishing Company. p. 49. ISBN 81-7022-305-9.
  18. ^ "Ki. Rajanarayanan". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  19. ^ a b c d "Meet the Author" (PDF). Sahitya Akademi - Indian government. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Farewell to writer Ki. Ra., with state honours". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 19 May 2021. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 22 May 2021.CS1 maint: others (link)
  21. ^ "Ki. Rajanarayanan". HarperCollins Publishers India. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  22. ^ "AKADEMI AWARDS (1955-2016)". Sahitya Akademi - Indian government. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  23. ^ "M.A. Chidambaram awards presented". The Hindu. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  24. ^ "விருது: கி.ரா.வுக்கு இலக்கியச் சாதனை விருது". The Hindu - Tamil. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  25. ^ "கி.ராஜநாராயணனுக்கு கனடா தமிழ் இலக்கியத் தோட்டத்தின் இலக்கியச் சாதனை சிறப்பு விருது – 2016". Tamil Literary Garden. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Ki. Rajanarayanan". Penguin publishers. Retrieved 26 April 2017.

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