He was 81. Jayakanthan had not been keeping well for quite some time, his son Jayasimhan told PTI. A prolific writer of novels and short stories, Jayakanthan is survived by his wife, two daughters and son. He has written around 40 novels and 200 short stories and used his pen effectively against social injustices and economic inequality.
His popular novel, 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal', which was later made into a film, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972. He was also a recipient of the Jnanpith Award in 2002. Born in Manjakuppam in Cuddalore on April 24, 1934, Jayakanthan was a school drop out who moved to Chennai, where he joined the undivided Communist Party of India. He was associated with communist leaders such as Jeevanandham and Baladandayutham, who encouraged him to take to writing.
He started writing for communist magazines. Jayakanthan, known as JK among his friends, focussed on the marginalised sections in his writing and several of his characters reflect their suffering. Besides 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal', his other novels 'Oru Nadigai Nadagam Paarkiral' and 'Yaarukkaga Azhudhaan' were also adapted into films.
He co-produced 'Unnai Pol Oruvan', a film on the travails of a poor woman, which was screened in Russia with sub-titles. The Russian government conferred the Order of Friendship award on him in 2011. A Padma Bushan awardee, Jayakanthan was also the founder of the Indo-Russian Cultural and Friendship Society.