Kerala is a land blessed with an abundance of talented writers. From evergreen names like Vaikom Muhammad Basheer and Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai to recent authors like Benyamin and K R Meera, malayalees are a lucky lot with quite a variety of works to feed a reading appetite. God’s own country has its fair share of poets and novelists that can satisfy any avid reader, the writers are talented and wonderfully expressive to say the least.
Kerala Insider has brought together a list of some of the most influential writers living today in no particular order. You might want to add a book or two to your reading list after going through the list!
MT Vasudevan Nair
Popularly known as MT, Madath Thekkepaattu Vasudevan Nair is an author, screenplay writer and film director. MT is quite the phenomenon among his readers, having the habit of endearing them with beautifully crafted stories that display the many shades of human life. He won the Jnanpith Award in 1995, Vayalar Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award among many others. His works Naalukettu, Randamoozham, Manju are still cherished by its readers. He also won the Padma Bhushan in 2005.
Known as one of the pioneers of modernity in Malayalam Literature, Maniyambath Mukundan is an Indian writer from Mayyazhi. Mukundan is a recipient of numerous awards including the Vayalar Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Crossword Book Award and the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram. He is also a recipient of the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of the Government of France. Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil, Pravasam and Kesavante Vilapangal are some of his famous works
Thinakkal Padmanabhan is yet another name in Malayalam Literature that cannot be exempted from mention. He is a short story writer and a recipient of numerous awards including the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram. Some of his notable works include Prakasam Parathunna Oru Penkutty, Gowri, Kadal and Thiranjedutha Kathakal.
Satchidanandan is considered a pioneer in modern poetry in Malayalam. Alongside being a poet, he is also a bilingual critic. He has also written many works in English. A recipient of numerous awards including the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, Vayalar Award and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Satchidanandan is a prized possession of Malayalam Literature. Some of his works include Peedana Kalam, Kavita, Aathmagita and Venal Mazha.
Shashi Tharoor is as much a writer as he is a politician. He has written 19 books in english. He began writing at a very young age and has won many awards ever since for his works. He is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work An Era of Darkness. His most famous book The Great Indian Novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1991.
Subhash Chandran is a malayalam novelist, short story writer and journalist who gained wide popularity after his book Manushyanu Oru Aamukham in 2010. He won the Vayalar award and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award since. Subhash is one of the main contributors to contemporary Malayalam Literature, he is also one of the most read young writers in the genre. Another of his noteworthy works is Samudrashila.
Benyamin rose to fame after his book Aadujeevitham (Goat days) hit the stands. It can be titled one of the most read books by malayalees today. He is a recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award among many others. Some of his works include Jasmine Days, Manjaveyil Maranangal and Akkapporinte Irupathu Nasrani Varshangal. Most of his works have also been translated to english.
A poet and envrironmental activist, Sugathakumari has been seen at the forefront of many environmental and feminist movements. She has won the Vayalar Awar, Odakkuzhal Award and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award among many others. Her notable works include Raathrimazha, Ambalamani and Manalezhuthu. Sugathakumari’s love for nature is evident in her works.
K R Meera
K R Meera started as a journalist before turning into a full time novelist. Her work Aarachar is widely regarded as one of the best literary works in Malayalam Literature. It received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Vayalar Award and Oddakuzhal Award. Some of her other works include Nethronmeelanam, Meerasadhu and Sooryane Aninja Oru Sthree.
Hareesh, hailing from Kottayam District of Kerala, is an exceptional writer that has given birth to many interesting novels. His debut novel, Meesha, caused quite the commotion due to a writ petition at the Supreme court for its ban. He is a recipient of many honours including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Novel and the Geetha Hiranyan Endowment of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi. His works include Rasavidhyayude Charithram, Aadam and Meesha.
Sarah Joseph is a novelist and short story writer who won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for her work Aalahayude Penmakkal. She received the Vayalar Award for the same novel as well. Sarah has been seen at the forefront of feminist movements in Kerala and she founded Manushi (organisation of thinking women) . Some of her notable works include Manassile Thee Matram, Othappu and Budhini.
Santhosh Echikkanam is a contemporary short story writer known famously for his short story Komala which won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2008. He has produced many works including Ottavathil, Kathapathrangalum pankeduthavarum, Oru chithrakathayile Nayattuka and Komala.
Unni R is a short story writer and screenplay writer who has contributed both to Malayalam Literature and Malayalam Cinema. His works are known for having elements of fantasy blended into ordinary human life, he writes for a well versed reader with many layers of meaning. Some of Unni R’s works include One hell of a lover (Oru Bhayankara Kamukan), Kottayam 17 and Kali Nadakam.
Manu S Pillai
Manu S Pillai is a writer and historian, a favourite at literary festivals. He is known for his non-fiction debut novel The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore. The work won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2017. Manu is a talented young man writing non-fiction which makes history interesting to people who think otherwise. Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji and The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin : Tales from Indian History are two other of his most noteworthy works.
Khadija Mumtaz is a doctor by profession. She made herself known in literary circles after her novel Barsa which won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2010. She started her literary career with the work Athmatheerthangalil Munginivarnnu. Barsa has been trnaslated to English, Tamil and Kannada.