#Onam Special: 5 Must Read Malayalam Translations

Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve

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:

Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve, Feature

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.

Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve, Feature

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.

Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve, Feature

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.

Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve, Feature

Ooru Kaval by Sarah Joseph translated as The Vigil
Sarah Joseph takes a much ignored character from Ramayana – Vali & Tara’s son – Angad and talks her mind through him.
Most writers favor Raman in their interpretation of Valmiki’s original poem narrating the story of the epic battle between the virtuous hero and his nemesis, Ravanan but this novel is about the turbulent journey of Angadan, who believes that Raman killed his father Vali against all principles of dharma. Angadan is acutely aware of the silent sufferings of women which find no expression in the Ramayana. In his view, Ram’s act of forcing his wife to undergo the fire-ordeal in the name of raja dharma is against all sense of justice and fair play embedded in the human heart. In this novel, Angadan is the solitary thinker who is able to see what the others are blind to or choose to ignore. In the Vigil, the familiar rhythm of the original poem is disturbed by the touch of Angadan’s ascetic touch. It is a new beginning, new path, a new way of understanding the grand old story.
Malayalam, Translations, Best, Must, Read, Tales, Pensieve, Feature
Aarachar by K.R. Meera translated as Hangwoman
One of the most celebrated literary works from modern Malayalam literature about a woman’s journey to be a legal executioner is epic and humane.
When twenty-two-year-old Chetna Grddha Mullick is appointed the first woman executioner in India, assistant and successor to her father, her life explodes under the harsh lights of television cameras. When the day of the execution arrives, will she bring herself to take a life? A masterpiece and a must read.
Tried any? Tell us your favourites.
*with inputs from author

One comment

Leave a Reply