The protagonist of Ponniyin Selvan — the epic novel penned by Kalki Krishnamurthy — is perhaps the most popular hero of all novels in Tamil put together, going by sales of the work.
The epic work in five volumes has seen numerous reprints by various publications since it was first published as a serial in Kalki magazine in 1950.
The work is also available online in audio and PDF formats. Yet the latest print edition, with paintings of artist Maniam — who had originally done illustrations for the serial — has become a major hit.
Published by Vikatan group, the latest version has sold over 10,000 copies within two weeks of its publication. “It was released on January 5 and by January 17 over 10,000 copies were sold. The sales include pre-orders made by readers and the sales at the book fair,” says a Vikatan group employee.
In the recently concluded 35th annual book fair, Ponniyin Selvan was among the top three best-sellers alongside Sahitya Akademi winning Kaaval Kottam and Mahatma Gandhi’s Sathiya Sodhanai.
Publishers say any edition of Ponniyin Selvansells as well as the Vikatan’s. “Publishers keep printing Ponniyin Selvan over and over again because it sells. What sets apart Vikatan’s print is perhaps the branding and the packaging.
They have used the original paintings of Maniam which was as sensational as the written word was when Ponniyin Selvan appeared as a serial. I brought the Vikatan edition for the paintings, though I already have a copy of Ponniyin Selvan,” says Sundar Rajan, a reader.