'Anthill': English translation of award-winning Malayalam novel 'Puttu' to release on Jan 16

The book cover; Vinoy Thomas | Photo: Penguin Bookhouse, Mathrubhumi

New Delhi: The English translation of Malayalam writer Vinoy Thomas's Kerala Sahitya Akademi award-winning novel "Anthill" will hit the stands on January 16, announced Penguin Random House India (PRHI) on Monday.

Originally titled "Puttu", the book, first published in 2021, is translated by Nandakumar K, recipient of the JCB Prize for Literature 2021.

It tells the story of people who have tried to shed the shackles of family, religion and other restraining institutions, but eventually struggles to conform to the needs of a cultured society.

"'Anthill' contains many plays that make up life, mainly family life. The games we play stretch out there from into our social and personal lives. I have tried to narrate these games -- that I have stood watching in awe and wonderment during this life of mine -- in 27 chapters," said the author in a statement.

The novel centres around the people of Perumpadi, a remote village that has hidden itself from the world. The first settler on this land, Kunjuvarkey, was fleeing the vilification of getting his own daughter pregnant. Now, those who followed had similar shameful secrets.

"In a land of sinners, where no one pried into the other's past, they were able to live and build a community without being tied down by society's interdictions," said the publishers in its description of the book.

Bringing this popular Malayalam novel to the forefront, the translator Nandakumar K said: "It's a delightful and cracking humorous novel which holds up a mirror to the morally straight-jacketed society."

"Vinoy will scoop up the readers with his verve for seamless and sparkling storytelling. Some 200 characters sashay through the book, but each of them has a distinct personality and will stay with the reader forever," he added.

The book is endorsed by the likes of noted writer M Mukundan and politician-author Shashi Tharoor.

While Mukundan described "Anthill" as a "rollicking celebration" of the lives of the Christian migrants in north-east Kerala 50 years ago, Tharoor called the book a "notable addition" to Malayalam literature.

"Bursting with rich depictions of Kerala life, Vinoy Thomas's Puttu/Anthill, translated by Nandakumar K, is a notable addition to the proud canon of Malayalam literature and greatly deserving of its prestigious recognition by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi," said Tharoor in his praise for the book.

Besides maiden novel "Karikkottakkary" and "Puttu", Thomas has also written several short story collections, including "Ramachi", "Mullaranjanam" and "Adiyormisiha Enna Novel".


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