By Punathil Kunjabdulla
Smarakashilakal is set in a predominantly Muslim North Malabar village. It is the story of a feudal lord Khan Bahadur Pookkoya Thangal of the rich Arakkal family who could build a world of his own in his village. The mosque and its cemetery weave a background of traditions and legends for the tale. Every character reflects some aspect of the social set up, at the same time lives as a person of individuality. Thangal stands head and shoulders above every other character with his unbounded generosity and insatiable lust. Published in 1977, Smarakashilakal was Kunjabdulla’s celebrated masterpiece and one of the most significant novels of all time in Malayalam. It won both the Kerala (1978) and Central Sahitya Akademi Awards (1980).
About the Author:
One of the finest practitioners of the avant-garde in Malayalam literature, Punathil Kunjabdulla (1940–2017) was a medical doctor by profession. His work includes more than 45 books, including 7 novels like Marunnu and Kanyavanangal, 15 short story collections, memoirs, an autobiography and travelogues that have stood the test of time.
By M. Mukundan
Translated into English as God’s Mischief by Prema Jayakumar
The novel is set in Mahé, the French colony after it was decolonized. The story is based on a magician, Father Alfonso, his daughter, Elsee and an Ayurveda Vaidyar Kumaran and his two twin sons and how their life changes after the land is decolonised. As post-colonial Mayyazhi (Mahe) tries to come to terms with its new-found independence, young men leave to seek their fortunes abroad. And many of the older generation, orphaned by the departure of the French, struggle to eke out a living even as they remember their days of plenty under their foreign masters. Caught up in their suffering, Kumaran Vaidyar does everything he can to keep the people of his beloved Mayyazhi from starving, but entrusts his own children to the care of his wife, who is no more. Meanwhile, Father Alphonse waves his magic wand and changes pebbles into candy and waits for his good-looking son to return. Through all this, untroubled by the woes of the elders, Shivan, Shashi and Elsie spend an idyllic childhood in sunny, sleepy Mayyazhi. Until the day of reckoning catches up with them and they pay the price of growing up. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992 and was also adapted into a film by noted director Lenin Rajendran in the same year.
About the Author
Sahitya Akademi Award winning author Maniyambath Mukundan, popularly known as M. Mukundan, is one of the pioneers of modernity in Malayalam literature. His first literary work was a short story published in 1961. Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil, Daivathinte Vikrithikal, Kesavante Vilapangal and Pravasam are some of his notable works. Mukundan has so far published 12 novels which include his later works such as Adithyanum Radhayum Mattu Chilarum, Oru Dalit Yuvathiyude Kadanakatha, Kesavante Vilapangal, Nritham and ten collections of short stories. Three of his novels were made into feature films in Malayalam.
The novel revolves around Govardhan, a character taken from the story ‘Prahasanam’, written by Bharathendu Harichandra. Govardhante Yathrakal provides a terrifying portrait of the cruelty and irrationality of the world which we contend as civilized. The author concerned with the irrationality of all systems of penal law, sends Govardhan, a fictional character liberated from a play by Bharathendu Harischandra, on a journey through Indian history where he encounters some of the more outrageous violations of justice. It won the Sahitya Akademi Novel in 1997.
About the Author
P. Sachidanandan (born 1936), uses the pseudonym Anand, is an Indian writer, writing primarily in Malayalam. His works are noted for their philosophical flavor, historical context and their humanism. He followed Alkkoottam (Crowd) his first novel with three more equally abstract novels: Maranacertificate (Death Certificate), Abhayarthikal (Refugees) and Utharayanam. These books made Anand a writer with considerable standing in Malayalam. But it was in the late eighties and early nineties that Anand came up with two more novels, Marubhoomikal Undakunnathu and Govardhanante Yathrakal, which made him an icon in Malayalam literature. Anand has also written many short stories and articles, most of which deal with plight of the ordinary people who are exploited by the people in power. His characters are not necessarily a Malayali, and often weaves in historical elements into his stories. More often they are also located outside Kerala. He is also a prolific essayist. He occasionally writes poems also.