Saraswativijayam


The reprint of Dilip Menon's translation of
Potheri Kunhambu's malayalam novel, Saraswativijayam is very welcome. One of the few (four?) publications of the Book Review Trust, the book has been out of print and in quite some demand for a while. The Book Review is, of course, one of our premier review periodicals, appearing as it does every month with remarkable regularity and remarkably strong and consistent content...

The language of Saraswativijayam is a "deceptively simple Malayalam" that Dilip Menon wanted to translate "into equally simple English that would not come out flat and ditch-water dull." Writing in The Hindu, Shobhana Bhattacharji said "He has succeeded admirably. ... Kunhambu's Saraswativijayam is a stark linear murder mystery. An arrogant Brahmin landlord causes the death of his slave for singing in his presence. Is he caught and punished? How? It takes years to unravel but the story moves along briskly. The writer cheerfully jumps over decades, keeping a firm hold of the narrative thread. Christianity emerges as a chief actor, emancipating characters from their caste and gender prisons, and also from hatred. I do not agree with Dilip Menon that the writer has not explicated the ideological aspects of Christianity for two of its most important tenets — Jesus' commandment that we must love one another and his teaching that we are all equal before God — dictate the Christian character's actions. (This sounds boringly vague but any more detail will spoil the mystery). Kunhambu, a lower caste Tiyya, "is clear that the readers of his novel should go out and change the world, not merely read about it". Yet the novel is not a tub-thumping tract but rich in suggestion, a record of how people felt and behaved."

Rs 200. 128 pages, Hardback. ISBN: 9788188434015

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