Naalukettu? (1958) is the story of a young boy, Appunni, set in a joint family (a tharavad) of the Nair caste in the author s native village, Kudallur. Growing up without a father and away from the prestige and protection of the matrilineal home to which he belongs, Appunni spends his childhood in extreme social misery.
Fascinated by accounts of the grand naalukettu tharavad of which he should have been a part, Appunni visits the house only to be rejected by the head of the household. With vengeance boiling in his heart and the pain of disappointed love a lingering ache, Appunni claws his way up in life to finally buy the symbol of his youthful aspiration and anguish: the naalukettu tharavad of his ancestors. But victory-both financial and emotional-turns to ashes. Enemies are not worth conquering; his father s murderer turns out to be the only sympathetic adult in his lonely teenage, and Appunni eventually returns the favour.
Naalukettu sensitively captures the traumas and psychological graph of Appunni, caught as he is in the throes of a transitional period in Malabar, a phase marked by the gradual disintegration of the feudal structures of the matrilineal joint family system and the rise of the Nair s sense of personal identity. The novel, a fascinating read, and the perceptive introduction by the translator herself, will appeal to students and scholars of regional Indian literature in translation, comparative literature, sociology and cultural studies, as well as general readers.
The first novel of a writer who began publishing at 14, and who took charge of Malayalam literary fiction nearly half a century ago, Naalukettu (1958) is woven around both real-life legends of Kudallur village and M.T. Vasudevan Nair s personal history. Currently in its eighteenth reprint, the Malayalam original has sold half a million copies and has been translated into fourteen languages.
About the Author
M.T. Vasudevan Nair Jnanpith Awardee, novelist, short-story writer, editor, critic, and composer of screenplays, is one of India s greatest living writers.
Gita Krishnankutty (Translator) is a well-known translator. She has published with every major publisher in India, and the Sahitya Akademi, Crossword, and Katha Awards all recognize the special quality of her work.