In the dimly lit yard of the arrack shop by the road, a small crowd had assembled, the men almost naked, the women in tattered dark saris and the shriveled children with frizzy hair. The crowd weaved back and forth, laughing uproariously. I thrust myself into the crowd and strained to see whatever was unfolding.
In the middle of the yard, surrounded by the crowd, was Thimma. He was on all fours, his face down, nose rooting in the dust. Wearing only a pair of sweat-stained black underpants, he wobbled his body and moved around, grunting. That body covered in black dust, that wobbly movement – that was not the Thimma I knew. That was a filthy country swine.
A research scholar whose notebook reveals a surreal pig farm…
A psychologist in search of the truth about one of his clients…
An aspiring writer who emulates Gogol…
The unforgettable men and women in N. Prabhakaran’s stories have an uncanny ability to expose the fault lines between the real and the unreal, the normal and the mad, as they explore their own inner worlds and psychic wounds.
A pioneer of the post-modern aesthetic turn, N. Prabhakaran weaves the nitty-gritty of everyday, small-town lives into his stories – all set in northern Kerala – that are steeped in folklore, nature, factional politics and the intricacies of human relationships.
Beautifully translated by Jayasree Kalathil, Diary of a Malayali Madman marks the very first time this major Indian writer’s work is available in English.
Madness, politics, love, and obsession in one brilliant collection.
N. PRABHAKARAN (b. 1952) is one of the major contemporary writers in Kerala and has published over forty works – novels, poetry, plays, short-story collections, essays, and a travelogue. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including the Sahitya Akademi Award twice and, most recently, the Muttathu Varky Literary Award.
JAYASREE KALATHIL’ s translations have been published in the Malayalam Literary Review, aaina, the anthology of Dalit writing No Alphabet in Sight, and as part of the book series for children, Different Tales.
Praise for Diary of a Malayali Madman
Don’t get misguided by the title, because this book is neither a diary nor is it about a Malayali. One of the most brilliant storytellers of our times, N.Prabhakaran’s incomparable fiction merges the real with the fantastic and the aesthetic with the political, thus transforming the region into the universal. Skilfully translated by Jayasree Kalathil, ‘words rain, dark and torrential’ in Diary of a Malayali Madman, masterfully weaving an aesthetic delirium out of the times we are living in.
– K.R. Meera
N. Prabhakaran is one of the finest fiction writers of his generation in any Indian language. He goes straight into the human mind, with its desires and fantasies, its madness and solitude. These translations capture all the dark beauty and poetry of the original narratives in Malayalam.
– K. Satchidanandan
Powerful stories that challenge notions of what a story should read like. Here lies madness, politics, love, and obsession. Handle with care.
– Jerry Pinto