Singapore, Dec 12: A 76-year-old Indian-origin writer whose 57 books are read in universities has been declared as the winner of this year's prestigious South East Asia Write Award, a media report said here today.
Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali, who has been writing for over 50 years and has several literary awards to his credit, including Singapore's prestigious Cultural Medallion and a number of them from Tamil Nadu, will receive the award on Monday. Better known as J M Sali, the author has written 57 books, 80 plays and more than 400 short stories including Vellai Kodugal (White Lines) Alaigal Pesuginrana (the Sound Of The Waves) that are now studied by Tamil Literature students in Singapore and Indian universities.
"I do not consider the award as recognition for me, but for Singapore. I hope we can continue to give awards to literary talents and writers here, to encourage them to write in their mother tongue," Sali told The Straits Times.
"I still get asked by the magazines there (in India) to write articles, so I will keep writing as long as they ask," said Sali who lives with his wife and a 28-year-old son here. Born in Madras in 1939, the son of a betel leaf seller and housewife, Sali was invited to Singapore at the age of 25 to be an assistant editor at the Tamil Murasu newspaper by its founder, the late G Sarangapani.
He went on to work for local broadcasting station and produced books on famous people including martial art icon Bruce Lee and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. Sali, who will be given the annual Asean regional award for literary excellence in Bangkok next Monday, continues full-time writing and doing translation work after retiring in 2000.
Started in 1979, the South East Asia Write Awards, or the Southeast Asian Write Awards, are presented annually to poets and writers in Southeast Asia. The awards are given to a writer from a country that is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).