Eighty eight years ago, a contingent of a hundred men led by Rajaji broke the then salt law imposed by the British and produced salt at Vedaranyam. This epochal event, however, is not popular and widely known like the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi. Even history textbooks make just a passing reference to this significant contribution of Tamil Nadu to the nation’s freedom struggle. ‘A Fistful of Salt’ a historical fiction based on the Satyagraha at Vedaranyam tries to bridge this gap. Originally written in Tamil as ‘Uppu Kanakku’ by Vidya Subramaniam, it was translated into English by Rama Srinivasan. Launching ‘A Fistful of Salt’ on Saturday, Mr R Nataraj, MLA and former Director General of Police, said that salt represents “equality, dignity and freedom” and lauded the author for “beautifully fictionalising forgotten chapters of our history. By retaining names like ‘kollu thatha’ instead of translating that as ‘great grandfather’, the translator has managed to get the flavour of the Tamil original”, he added.
“We have been only publishing young and upcoming authors but decided to publish ‘A Fistful of Salt‘ because this story had to be told and we will ensure it is published in all regional languages too,” said Devendra Jaiswal, publisher and CEO of StoryMirror.
A fistful of Salt is a translation of the Tamil bestseller “Uppu Kanakku“. It is a powerful novel woven around our independence struggle and the pain of partition. A historical fiction set in the pre independence era, it takes one back to the epochal salt march to Vedaranyam by Rajaji. The novel deftly combines fictional characters with real characters and presents history with an interesting plot. Ananth who is on a short vacation at his great grandfather’s house in Mylapore before going abroad for further studies is intrigued by the behaviour of his grand uncle. When he tries to find an answer, he is taken down the memory lane that reveals his family’s participation in the freedom struggle.
The story that begins in the present day Madaveethi or Mada Street in Mylapore, transports the reader from Mylapore to Vedaranyam to Lahore, spanning several decades resulting in a historical virtual travel experience. While Ananth learns about his lineage we embark on a journey that gives us a slice of history with points to ponder, moments to revel, trauma to shudder, philosophy to emulate, spirituality to meditate. An emotional journey with love, fervour, anger, angst and a tinge of humour, A Fistful of Salt is a well researched book and a must read for those who wish to revisit history through a compelling narrative and inimitable style.
About the author:
Vidya Subramaniam has been writing Tamil novels and short stories for close to four decades. Born and brought up in Chennai, this 62 year old writer has a hundred books to her credit…and has won a slew of awards… including a Tamilnadu State Award.
An anthology of her short stories has been translated into English titled ‘Beyond the Frontier’. Two of her short stories have also been translated and featured in a book titled ‘Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction’.
When she is not writing she wields the brush with as much finesse and elan as her pen. A self taught artist, she has developed a penchant for the brush, lending a creative touch to her Murals. Vidya Subramaniam is her pseudonym and her real name is S.Usha.
About The Translator
Mrs Rama Srinivasan
A post graduate in English Literature, Rama Srinivasan has been a writer for over six decades. Montessori trained, she began her teaching career in Delhi and moved up the academic ladder during her career that spanned about 25 years and retired as a school Principal.