Frontlist | Books in Malayalam a huge attraction at SIBF
Publishers from the south Indian state of Kerala continue their compelling presence at the ongoing 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) with award-winning novels and some of the finest literary works ever produced in the state’s regional language, Malayalam.
The vast diversity of genres available at the various stands located in Hall 06 at Expo Centre Sharjah attest to the appetite for quality literature amongst the populace of this region.
Famed for its stories that explore the universality of human emotions and understanding, Malayalam novels are also renowned for critiquing contemporary socio-cultural practices in society through their in-depth probing into the individual experience via strong, well fleshed out characters.
“Social realities and culture continue to be of interest to writers in Malayalam,” said Thomas Pulickal George, Sales Manager at DC Books. “The average Malayalam reader is attracted by the quality of content; and realistic novels that draw energy from the social and political transformations across the country have long been a hit with readers.”
At the M09 stand in Hall 06, he revealed that within four days of the opening of SIBF 2020, all copies of the latest releases of popular contemporary writers Benyamin and K.R. Meera were sold out. Released in September this year, Benyamin’s Nishabda Sancharangal is already in its second edition while K.R. Meera’s Khabar launched in the same month has entered its third edition. Both authors have received a roster of regional and national awards for their previous works.
Another popular writer to look out for is S. Hareesh whose piercingly relevant, Meesha, addresses a wide range of gender and caste issues in society.
A most recent trend in Malayalam literature is the personal narrative, and the autobiography of Prof. T.J. Joseph, who was a victim of a brutal side of humanity, has been a huge hit with the SIBF audience. In the book, titled Attupokatha Ormakal, the scholar reflects on all that he has lost, how he was shunned by society, and why he has been able to forgive.
Continuing to drive sales year after year at SIBF are the classics of Malayalam literature such as M.T Vasudevan Nair’s masterpiece, Randamoozham – a path-breaking novel that reimagines a popular mythological narrative; and Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s Balyakalasakhi – a simple but gut-wrenching story of two childhood friends who go on to become lovers until fate intervenes.
Other classics at SIBF this year include Thakazhi’s Chemmeen, O.V.Vijayan’s Khasakinte Ithihasam, and M. Mukundan’s Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil, amongst others.
The Malayalam reader is well-read in every genre, including in world literature, said George, pointing to the array of translated titles that encompass, amongst others, Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Portuguese novelist and Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s Cain, 20th century’s literary giant, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and a range of books by Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.
Translations of Indian authors too find favour with the Malayalam reader and a fast-selling title here is Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Manu S. Pillai’s The Ivory Throne.
Historical narratives and self-help books are just beginning to gain a new audience amongst readers in the Malayalam language, he added. Other genres available at the DC Books stand include non-fiction, memoirs, travelogues, motivational books, and children’s books.
On display at the stand are also books from other publishers in Kerala who were unable to visit SIBF this year.
Earlier, Shashi Tharoor — author, Indian politician, and former international civil servant — who is also well known for his formidable vocabulary and penchant for unusual words, told an international virtual audience at the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair that his favourite word in his rich lexicon is: ‘Read’.
“I once read 365 books in a particular year – I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone as you should read for pleasure, not to achieve a target,” said the prolific writer and author of more than 15 non-fiction titles.