Popular Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi laureate Ki Ra passes away at 98!

Reputed Tamil writer Ki Rajanarayanan, who was popularly known as Ki Ra, has passed away in the late-night hours on Monday at the age of 98 in Puducherry due to age-related ailments. As one of the most inspiring writers, Ki Ra was a laureate of the Sahitya Akademi award, a prestigious award bestowed upon the writers who promote the literature in the languages of India. 

Known for his unparalleled contribution to Tamil literature, Ki Ra was born in the hamlet Idaiseval, near Kovilpatti in Tamil Nadu on September 16, 1923. He dropped out of school in the seventh standard and developed his interest in Tamil literature and covering the lives of people living in the arid regions of Tamil Nadu. He first published the short story 'Mayamaan' in 1958 and it has garnered huge success, prompting him to pen more novels and short stories, and he has dedicated his life to writing about folklore and rural life.

His stories were usually based in the arid regions around his hometown Kovilpatti by covering the lifestyles, beliefs, and struggles of people living in such regions. In 1989, he moved to Puducherry after he was appointed as the Professor of Tamil folklore at Pondicherry University. He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1991 for his novel 'Gopallapurathu Makkal', which narrates the lives of Telugu-speaking people who had migrated to southern Tamil Nadu. 

He was keen on recording the lives of people living in rural areas of Tamil Nadu and his writing had sowed major attention towards the vivid lifestyle of the rural and arid Tamil Nadu. Ki Ra is considered to be the pioneer of the 'Karisal Ilakkiyam' genre of Tamil literature. During his tenure as a professor at Pondicherry University, he wrote about 200 folk stories, which were published as Naattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam. 

Ki Ra has published over 30 books in his lifetime and some of the notable books including Gopalla Gramam, Andaman Nayakkar, Karisal Kaatu Kaduthaasi, Kalavu, Pinchukal, and Puthaga Kaathalar. He was active in literature for the past 60 years and gifted what would remain as a treasure for Tamil literature. At Pondicherry University, he held the title of Director of Folktales in the university's Documentation and Survey Center. 

Apart from a writer, he also took part in politics. Ki Ra was a member of the Communist Party of India and went to prison twice for his participation and support in the party's organized peasant rebellions during 1947-51. He had served as an advisory board member of Sahitya Akademi from 1998 to 2002. Apart from the Sahitya Akademi award, Ki Ra had also received the 'Tamil Valarchi Araichi Mandram' award in 1971, 'Ilakkiya Chinthanai' award in 1979, Best Write award from Santhome International Christian Society in 1990, MA Chidambaram Award in 2008, and Literary achievement special award from the Tamil Literary Garden in 2016. 

Ki Ra has passed away on Monday at the age of 98 in Puducherry due to age-related ailments. Ever since the news of his demise broke out, several celebrities and politicians have been paying tributes to the deceased writer. Veteran actor Sivakumar has called Ki Ra 'Wise father'. Sivakumar said that he had observed a relationship with Ki Ra for 35 years and he expressed his deepest condolences. DMK MP Kanimozhi had also paid tribute to the deceased Sahitya Akademi laureate.