Book Review: ‘The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told’ by A. J. Thomas

Embark on a Literary Journey: The Essence of Malayali Experience Unveiled in 50 Timeless Stories.

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Book Title: The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told
Curated By: A. J. Thomas
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Number of Pages: 466
ISBN: 978-9390652761
Date Published: Nov. 5, 2023
Price: INR 710

The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told by A. J. Thomas Book Cover

Book Review

The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told”, curated and translated by A. J. Thomas, unfolds as an enthralling collection of fifty short stories from Malayalam literature. These tales, penned by eminent writers like Karoor Neelakanta Pillai, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, and others, offer a diverse literary panorama. The anthology serves as a cultural exploration, delving into the intricate social, cultural, and emotional dimensions of Kerala.

Thomas skillfully selects stories that navigate complex themes such as Dalit discourse, feminist perspectives, and the challenges faced by Malayalis venturing beyond their homeland. The anthology authentically portrays identity, belonging, and the evolving dynamics of Kerala’s society. It becomes an essential read for literature enthusiasts seeking a nuanced glimpse into the rich tapestry of the Malayali experience.

The collection presents a Malayali way of looking at the world and telling stories, as perceived by A. J. Thomas. In these “modern classics,” the Malayali figure emerges as someone oscillating between sober realism and hallucinatory fantasy, delving into satire, politics, poetry, and humor. The stories transcend geographical boundaries, portraying the migratory Malayali engaging with various cultures while retaining a distinct “Malayaliness.”

Set against diverse backdrops, from Delhi to Kashmir and the Andaman Islands, the stories capture the essence of the Malayali experience in modern times. Writers like V. K. N and Lalithambika Antharjanam depict the Malayali navigating high society in 1960s Delhi or grappling with the aftermath of the Partition of India. The anthology encapsulates a unique Malayali sensibility that resonates, regardless of the geographical location.

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Through stories like “Lunch” and narratives revolving around the Partition, the anthology portrays Malayalis responding to their surroundings and situations with a distinct Malayali sensibility. Whether in Delhi or Lahore, the Malayali experience remains a constant thread, showcasing the enduring storytelling prowess of Malayalam literature.

The Greatest Malayalam Stories Ever Told” thus stands as a testament to the enduring and evolving nature of Malayali narratives down the ages.

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