#Onam Special: 5 Must Read Malayalam Translations
It’s the day when Kerala’s prosperous and just king Mahabali Maveli is believed to visit his kingdom and his subjects. The promise that Vishnu’s 5th avatar – vaman allowed the king who in no terms was a bad ruler, before pushing him to the Nether-lands. If the erstwhile ruler of what is now the state of Kerala wants to take a stock of his subjects, referring to the literature from his kingdom is a good way, we think.
King Maveli can read Malayalam but for the ones who can’t and still want to enjoy the best of Malayalam literature here are *5 books translated from Malayalam to English that you must not miss out on reading:
Manushyanu Oru Amukham by Subhash Chandran translated as A Preface To Man
A storyline that moves with Ann Marie reading fragments of her dead husband’s unfinished book, and the many love letters he sent her, and in them the social and political events of the time. As she ponders the writing and the years that the brilliant Jithendran squandered working for a toy company that makes drum-playing monkeys, the narrative gives way to the sweeping saga of a village by the river Periyar. Grappling with issues of equality, love, caste, religion and politics, Thachanakkara is a microcosm of twentieth-century Kerala. Told through the history of three generations of a feudal Nair family, this sprawling story won Sahitya Akademi Award inspite of being a debut novel. Thanks to Fathima E.V. we can now enjoy this story in english.
Othappu by Sarah Joseph translated as Othappu
This transfiguring work opens with Sister Margalitha leaving the Convent in search of God. When she decides to live with Karikkan, a priest who has abandoned his vocation, she offends her family, society, the Church, and the law. The scandal rocks Thrissur, and the couple become social outcasts. Othappu, the first Malayalam novel of its kind, is about a woman’s yearning for a true understanding of spirituality and her own sexuality. The novel is a powerful indictment of the hypocrisy that plagues Christianity in many parts of the Subcontinent. Othappu unfolds at many levels to critique notions of class, caste, antiquity, and prestige that have, over time, eroded the power of the first Church.
A controversial but must read. We have it in english thanks to the translation by Valson Thampu.
Randamoozham by M.T. Vasudevan Nair translated as Bhima: Lone Warrior
One of Malayalam’s most celebrated writer’s most celebrated work!
Bhima: Lone Warrior unravels the Mahabharata through a forgotten man’s eyes – Bhima. Always having to settle for second place as a son and a husband, Bhima is put under the spotlight in the book taking a fresh approach to Indian mythology. His bravery, honour and kind nature is brought out in the pages of this book. The book gives you a peek into the life of the loner, who can hide his feelings very effectively, but has the remarkable ability to perceive other people’s feelings accurately.
A humane take on a man who was perceived as near raakshas.