M. T. Vasudevan Nair

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colonialism, post-colonialism
Written and spoken word (general)
Asia, Southern and Central
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April 28, 2005
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M. T. Vasudevan Nair was born in Kudallur, a village in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, in 1933. His first short stories, written in his native language, Malayalam, were published in several magazines while he was a youth. The young author´s first volume of narratives came out in 1952.
His debut novel ´Nalukettu´ (1958 Engl. ´The Ancestral House´,1959) won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1959. The National Book Trust made it possible for him to have the book translated into all official languages of India. Since then he has written eight more novels, including ´Asuravithu´ (1962 Engl. ´The Demon Seed and Other Writings´,1998), ´Manju´ (1964 t: Snow) and ´Kaalam´ (1969 Engl. ´Kaalam´, 1998). He has also published eighteen volumes of short stories, as well as travelogues, literary essays and children´s books. He has been honored with the Jnanpith Award, the most prestigious Indian literary award, and numerous other accolades. But M. T. Vasudevan Nair has not only made a reputation for himself as an author and long time editor of the influential weekly literary magazine ´Mathrubhumi´, but also as the prize winning script writer and director of Malayalam movies. His cinema work includes more than forty screenplays, and the direction of six feature films, three documentaries and one TV series. His literary and cineastic oeuvre focuses on rural South Indian society. British colonialism and the independence of India led to fundamental changes of traditional matrilineal structures in the northern Kerala (Nair) communities. M. T. Vasudevan Nair is considered the principal chronicler of the breakdown of their family system. Many narratives draw from the history of Kudallur, Nair´s home village, characterised by dissolving feudalist structures and values. Nair uses a concise and lyrical language to depict the correlation between conditions of society and the anxieties and emotional involvements of his characters. This is true also in his novel ´Randamoozham´ (1984 Engl. ´Second Turn´, 1997) which is based on the Indian epic ´Mahabharata´. Nair´s respectful recreation of the classic is told from the point of view of the war hero Bhima, who gains, through the author´s ironic undertones, a new psychological depth. "I have not changed the framework of the story by the first Vyasa, Krishna-Dwaipayana. I have read between his lines and expanded on his pregnant silences." M. T. Vasudevan Nair lives in Calicut/ Kerala, India.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)


Writings of M. T. Vasudevan Nair

Published Written,
Orient Blackswan

The Master Carpenter

Published Written,
Katha: New Delhi

Kuttiedathi and Other Stories

Published Written,
Orient Longman: New Delhi

Oru cerupunciri: Sinima

Published Written,
Di. Si. Buks

The Frontiers of Fiction

Published Written,
Sahitya Akademi: New Delhi


Published Written,
Translated from the Malayalam by Gita Krishnankutty, Sangam: London

The Demon Seed and Other Writings

Published Written,
Translated from the Malayalam by V. Abdulla and Gita Krishnankutty, Penguin Books: New Delhi

Second Turn

Published Written,
Translated from the Malayalam by P.K. Ravindranath, MacMillan India: Chennai

Catching An Elephant and Other Stories

Published Written,
Translated from the Malayalam by V. Abdulla, Rupa & Co.: Calcutta


Published Written,
Poorna: Calcutta

The Legacy

Published Written,
Translated from the Malayalam by Celine Mathieu, Vikas: New Delhi


International Festival of Literature Berlin

Official website