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Beyond the Sea

P. SINGARAM (b. 1920 – d. 1997) is considered one of the foremost Tamil novelists of the modern period, despite having authored only two novels, both set in Southeast Asia, where he spent many years as a young man. His novels are set in Medan in Indonesia and Penang in Malaysia. Born in 1920 in the Sivagangai district in Tamil Nadu, P. Singaram’s family was involved in the textile business. He went to Singampunari Primary School, and then to St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Madurai. In 1938, at the age of 18, he moved to Medan in Sumatra, Indonesia, to work. After the war, Singaram returned to India in 1946 and lived in Madurai. He wrote his first novel Kadalukku Appaal (Tamil: கடலுக்கு அப்பால்; English: Beyond the Sea) in 1950 (published in 1959), and his second novel Puyalile Oru Thoni (Tamil: புயலிலே ஒரு தோணி; English: A Boat in a Storm) in 1962. He faced many difficulties in finding publishers for his work, and his second novel remained unpublished till 1972. Singaram planned to return to Medan, but he ended up working at Dinathandhi newspaper until his retirement in 1987. He gave away his earnings to social welfare trusts just before he died in December 1997.

RANGGASAMY KARTHIGESU (b. 1940 – d. 2016) was a former professor of Mass Communication at the University of Science Malaysia, Penang, where he taught broadcasting and journalism. Before venturing into academia, he was a well-known broadcaster with an illustrious career with Radio Television Malaysia (RTM). After retiring, he dedicated his time to Tamil literary writing. An award-winning author, he wrote five novels, five short story anthologies and two collections of literary essays in Tamil. Karthigesu held a B.A. degree in Indian Studies (Malaya), Master of Science in Journalism (Columbia) and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication (Leicester). Dr Karthigesu’s obituary was published in the widely circulated Canadian Tamil Weekly newspaper.

Areca Books (First Edition, 2019)
184 pages


Out of stock

Product ID: 6000 Subject: Sub-subjects: ,

Beyond the Sea which has been described as ‘the one great Tamil novel of Penang,’ follows the story of a young moneylender, who hopes to marry his boss’s daughter, came to free Malaya from the Japanese on behalf of the British, and ended up helping free India from the British. World War II and his joining the Japanese sponsored Indian National Army disrupts his plans and on his return he discovers that much has changed. This novel has been translated from the original Tamil into English.

P. Singaram did not plan to write a historical novel. In Beyond the Sea, the author simply wrote a love story set against the background of post-war Malaya. He referred to important events that occurred at a critical juncture of Malayan history based on his own knowledge and personal experience. Because of the significance of the events described, Singaram’s work consider as a historical novel.

Singaram was the best repository of information on post-war Malaya and he relied on his own experience and personal knowledge when writing the book. Having lived here during the crucial years in Malayan history, the author could write about the streets, buildings, people, sequence of events and impact on society. He knew about the Indian National Army (INA) soldiers and their plight, he was familiar with the Japanese Kempeitai and the communists. Having worked in the kittangi, he knew the Chettiar community well enough to be able to depict their value systems. Beyond the Sea is a novel that is true to life and true to history. It may just be a fictitious story of romance, but the setting is real, the plot realistic and the characters genuine.

The author passed away disappointed that he could not return to live in Malaya. He continued to look upon Malaya as a land beyond the sea. But in the few years of his stay here, he was able to capture for us something that no amount of history books is able to unravel. The novel did not attract the readership that it deserved because it was published in India and the readers there cannot identify with events that occurred somewhere far away and long ago. It is important, in the current day, for the novel to be well annotated.

Weight0.330 kg
Dimensions22.86 × 15.24 × 1.2 cm




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