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Born Ilangovan
(1956-11-01) 1 November 1956 (age 59)
Nenmeni Mettupatti, Tamil Nadu
Literary movement Modern, Imagism
Notable works Paazhi, Pidhiraa, Tha

Konangi (Tamil: கோணங்கி) (born 1 November 1956) is the pen name of the Tamil writer Ilangovan. He is the maternal grandson of the Tamil playwright, lyricist, writer and Freedom fighter Madurakavi Baskaradoss. His father is the Tamil writer Shanmugam and his mother is Saraswathi. His elder brother is the Tamil short-story writer Tamilselvan and his younger brother is Murugaboopathy a contemporary Tamil playwright. He grew up in Naagalapuram and Nenmeni Mettupatti and he currently lives in Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu.

Described as the most important Tamil voice since the death of Pudumaipithan, Konangi has published six short story collections and three novels. His works belongs to the less popular serious literature genre in Tamil which is mostly published in literary magazines and only occasionally in magazines and newspapers with wider circulation.[1][2][3] Konangi's first short story veechu (வீச்சு) was published in Thaamarai a Tamil magazine in 1980 and from then on he went to create some of the most original short stories in the Tamil language. His stories are characterised by very dense images, a tight narrative style with a vocabulary like no other bringing a ritualistic shade to the use of the Tamil language. His works often pushes and breaks the limits of fiction in Tamil literature by abandonment of the conventions of plot and character construction.

Konangi quit his job in March 1988 and started his own little magazine Kal Kudhirai in October 1988 in the Kalrayan Hills which continues to publish serious contemporary Tamil fiction, poetry, reviews and translations. Konangi's earlier short stories dealt with the issues of Alienation, effects of Urbanisation in villages leading to farmer suicides, Childhood memories, Rural tales and other metaphysical themes. He later experimented in fiction writing a wide range of genres including Surrealistic and Magical stories of fantasy. His previous novels Paazhi dealt with Jainism and Pidhiraa dealt with a wide range of subjects using the reference of the five ancient Sangam landscapes. His latest novel Tha was published on January 2013.

Despite receiving enormous acknowledgements for his literary outputs,[citation needed] Konangi stays away from the media .


Konangi's earlier stories were inherently modern without intending to be so. Tamil critic S.Shanmugam writes, "His Text narratives pushes beyond the limits of realism and subverts the obsolete storytelling practices. His last published novel ' THA'(”த”)swirls in a sign-space."

முதல் சில சிறுகதைகள்[edit]

  • வீச்சு – தாமரை – 1980.
  • விளக்குச்சரம் – சிகரம் சிற்றிதழ் – 1980.
  • இருட்டு – சிகரம் – October 1980.
  • கருப்பு ரயில் – தேடல் – October 1981.
  • மதினிமார்கள் கதை – மீட்சி – 1982.

Short story collections[edit]

  • மதினிமார்கள் கதை – அன்னம் வெளியீடு
  • கொல்லனின் ஆறு பெண்மக்கள்.
  • பொம்மைகள் உடைபடும் நகரம்.
  • பட்டுப்பூச்சிகள் உறங்கும் மூன்றாம் ஜாமம்
  • உப்புக்கத்தியில் மறையும் சிறுத்தை.
  • இருள்வ மௌத்திகம் .
  • சலூன் நாற்காலியில் சுழன்றபடி.
  • வெள்ளரிப் பெண்(Anthology)


  • கைத்தடி கேட்ட நூறு கேள்விகள் – A novella that won the prize in Kanaiyaazhi.
  • அப்பாவின் குகையில் இருக்கிறேன் – ( I am in my fathers cave)
  • தழும்புகள் சிவந்த அணங்கு நிலம்.


  • பாழி – 2000
  • பிதிரா – 2004
  • த – 2013


Pidhira was released in 2004 and is largely a novel that was less denser and more accessible than the earlier work paazhi. It had its sections based on the five Tamil sangam landscapes . The first part 'mullai' was written as a fiction based on the travels in Andhra Pradesh.

Tha (த)[edit]

Konangi's recent novel Tha published in January 2013 (released in Dhanushkodi) is an enormous piece of imaginary work of lyrical prose which deals with the displacement of the north east Indians, Samaritans, Veenai Dhanammal,Tales from the Silappatikaram, The Music of His Master's Voice, Ancient Tamil music, Saraswathi Mahal Library, the Alipore Jail, the mythology of the Samaritans, the works of Socrates, the landscape of Nagapattinam, the mythological stories of Ravana, HMS Blake, Zen, Kalamkari paintings and other elements in a fictional universe called Tha.

The novel also contains allegories, folk tales, oral histories, ritual details, archetypes, fables, anecdotes, parables, tall tales, legends and ghost stories making it the single most diverse work in Tamil fiction in recent times.


  • Took his pen name from a poetry line by Subramanya Bharathi
  • Wrote the introduction to பாழி at Sanchi, Vidisha, Ajanta and Ellora caves.
  • Fictionalized Mozart's funeral in a short story.
  • Fictionalized the works of Paul Gauguin and Rembrandt .
  • In one of the chapters in த, Konangi juxtaposes Vallalaar and Dostoyevsky to produce a fictional reading experience that is new of its kind.
  • Dedicated his book இருள்வ மௌத்திகம் to the poet Nakulan. An inventive short story about nakulan is present in சலூன் நாற்காலியில் சுழன்றபடி.
  • Rarely gives interviews.
  • த contains a reimagining of the Tale of the Arabian nights
  • An orator par excellence(mostly on Ex tempore) but rarely attends any public literary meetings.
  • Published the only interview collection till date named Paatiyin kuralvalayai kaapatri vaiththirukkiren.

On novels[edit]

The only other similar novel that comes close to Konangi's works is the Irish Finnegans Wake about which the playwright Samuel Beckett said: "This writing that you find so obscure is a quintessential extraction of language and painting and gesture, with all the inevitable clarity of the old inarticulation. Here is the savage economy of hieroglyphics" and the Canadian critic, historian and novelist Patrick wrote: "Those people who say the book is unreadable have not tried reading it aloud. This is the secret. If you even mouth the words silently, suddenly what seemed incomprehensible leaps into referential meaning, by its sound, since page after page is rich in allusion to familiar phrases, parables, sayings of all kinds – and the joyous and totally brilliant wordplay, over and over again imperceivable until you actually listen to it – transforms what was an unrelievable agony into an adventure"

See: Criticism of Finnegans Wake

Comments on works include:

  • His Baroque writing style has often been commented and criticized.
  • Difficulties in plot summary.
  • Like poetry, uses words and images which can mean several, often contradictory, things at once.
  • Dense weave of a language designed as much to shield the plot summary than to reveal them.
  • Usage of a lexicon of old Tamil words.
  • New readers who enter the Tamil literary landscape have often been made to believe about the works of Konangi as unapproachable, chaotic and incomprehensible by the general opinions of the media. Due to this some of Konangi's works (novels) often remain as a vast verbal labyrinth of extraordinary images waiting to be deciphered.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Writers' body flays political system". The Hindu. 26 December 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Gupta, Vaijayanti (16 February 2009). "A Place to Live: Contemporary Tamil Short Fiction". www.sawnet.org. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Jeyamohan. "Kurralam pathivugal". www.thinnai.com (in Tamil). Retrieved 21 January 2010.