Best Malayalam Novels

Best Malayalam Novels


Malayalam is a language of India, ancient and renowned. It has an abundance of literary works as old as time itself. Many illustrious authors have crafted masterpieces using the Malayalam language.

Here are some of the best novels ever written in Malayalam. We will also glance through the plot of each book:

  1. Chemmeen by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai
  2. Randamoozham by M.T. Vasudevan Nair
  3. Kayar by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai
  4. Manju by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  5. Oru Desathinte Katha by S.K. Pottekkatt

Overview of Malayalam literature

Malayalam literature is full of written works in the South Indian language spoken mainly in the state of Kerala. It contains a variety of genres, from ancient myths to modern short stories, which reflect different socio-political ideologies. With over 700 years of written tradition, art and culture are intertwined with this rich heritage.

Malayalam literature can be divided into stages based on its themes:

  • The Vedic Stage reflects Hindu philosophies, religious scriptures and Sanskrit epics.
  • The Virshtikal period (13th Century) was when traditional lyrical poems, composed mostly by Thiyyas, blossomed in Central Travancore.
  • The Vatteluttu Period (1500s to 1900s) had novels and plays discussing social reform and revolution.
  • The Vikrti Period (late 1800s) was characterised by romance novels.
  • The Naiksatilakam Period (1925-1946) had mostly novelistic works.
  • The Premodharam Era (1947-1970s) marked a rise in political consciousness in literature.
  • Manivattom (after 1970s) introduced progressive themes such as gender identity issues and environmentalism.

Iconic texts in Malayalam literature include epics such as “Adhyathmaramayanam” and “Krishnadevarayan“, short stories like O V Vijayan’s “The Legends Of Kathapurushan“, and novels like Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s “Chemmeen“. Popular works by Dalit authors include “Kerala Varma Valiya Koyithampuran“, “Veeravally Kalyanikutti Amma“, “Uroob“, and critics such as Sukumar Azhikode. Present day storytellers include Kumaran Ashan, T D Ramakrishnan, Kamala Das, Hameed Chennamangallur, Kesav Dev, C Rajendran, K J Baby Kozhikode Narayanan Nair, G Sankara Kurup, V Madhusoodanan Nair, Ente sookshikkukaandu, and Balachandran Chullikkad.

Best Malayalam novels

Malayalam literature is brimming with stories that captivate, stimulate and enrich. There are oodles of Malayalam novels that are vastly acclaimed and adored by readers from all spectrums.

In this article, we will cover several of the greatest Malayalam novels that stand out for their exceptional literary qualities. These books will lead you on an unforgettable ride through the centre of Malayalam literature.

Chemmeen by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai

Chemmeen, an award-winning novel by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, is an iconic Malayalam piece. It came out in 1956 and has been adapted into multiple films, including the 1965 movie of the same name directed by Ramu Kariat.

The story is set in a fishing village in Southern India. It follows Paleri Karthavu, a young woman who is married against her will to Venu, a fisherman. As their relationship evolves, it captures the essence of rural life back then.

The novel highlights economic disparity between social classes in rural India. It also shows how tradition can become a double-edged sword for marginalized communities. Even though it was written nearly sixty years ago, its themes are still relevant today. It’s no wonder that Chemmeen won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (Kerala Literary Award) in 1962 and many other awards.

Randamoozham by M.T. Vasudevan Nair

Randamoozham, otherwise known as The Second Turn, is a renowned novel written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair in 1984. Adapted from the classic tale Mahabharata and featuring Bhimasena as the protagonist, this novel has been widely celebrated for its literary excellence and stimulating story-telling. It has been translated and compiled several times, showing its success and popularity among readers of all ages.

This novel offers a captivating reinterpretation of the traditional perspectives on the renowned Indian epic. It is seen through Bhimasena’s eyes, who is known as one of the strongest characters in Hindu mythology. It mainly focuses on how individuals can influence things they have no control over. It also gives insight into humanity’s struggle between personal agency and divinity’s acts, with irony that makes us think about some aspects regarding society and human nature.

Randamoozham is often referred to as one of India’s most monumental works in Malayalam literature. It is intimidating yet meditative, almost like a spiritual experience. It provides timeless wisdom despite its cultural nuances set within a classic era setting. It still reverberates across modern day India in subtle overtones – turning it into an allegory that entire generations can explore through words!

Kayar by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai

Kayar is the classic Malayalam novel by the veteran author, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. It was first published in 1951. Pillai has made a huge contribution to Malayalam literature.

The novel tells of the struggles of fishermen and their families in rural Kerala. They fight against landlords, British insularity and their own caste system. The novel portrays the effects of economic hardship, sexism, caste discrimination and political corruption.

Kunjan Nambiar is the main character. His father is an honest tapper but he has not been paid for months. In desperation, they jump into a boat one stormy night and find refuge in another family’s home.

Kunjan learns about life and social norms under landlordism and rigid educationists. Ayyankali shows us the characters and their lives. We feel for them as they try to make a living under oppressive societal boundaries.

Kayar is an emotionally powerful story. It highlights relevant ethical issues concerning justice. It deserves to be at the top of any listicle for best Malayalam novels!

Manju by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s Manju is an adored book in Malayalam language. It is about a young man called Murukan and his troubles. Basheer shows Murukan’s hardships of getting a job. Plus, his unrequited affection for a girl who is beyond his rank. Even so, the joy of finding pleasure within himself is presented in the atmosphere of rural India.

Manju is celebrated for its sharpness, and amusing use of comedy despite its serious subject matter. This makes it an unforgettable, classic work.

Oru Desathinte Katha by S.K. Pottekkatt

Oru Desathinte Katha (A Tale of a Land) is a Malayalam novel written in 1971 by S.K. Pottekkatt. It is widely known for being one of the best ever written.

The story focuses on the lives of people living in a village in north Kerala during India’s independence. It shows how hard-working people are forced to make tough choices due to poverty and lack of knowledge. It explores the relationship between wealth, religion and morality in a globalizing society.

The novel contains events from local conflicts to national issues, such as:

  • Communalism
  • Untouchability
  • Agricultural reform

It allows readers to understand how all levels of Indian society interact with each other – from wealthy landlords to small farmers to low castes. Pottekkatt also portrays everyday rural life – from traditional festivals to oppressive caste systems – which still remain relevant today.

At the core, Oru Desathinte Katha is a story about human strength despite difficult odds. It takes readers to an emotional climax that makes them yearn for something that is out of reach but still embedded deeply within us – homecoming.


To wrap it up, one’s favorite Malayalam novel is a matter of individual taste. It might depend on personal experiences. However, some great books by amazing authors have left a lasting impression on readers.

Examples of such novels include:

  • Kayar by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai
  • Manju by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  • Chemmeen by Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan

All these works are seen as classic examples of the best Malayalam literature. It’s worth giving them a read for a better comprehension of Kerala’s culture and values.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some of the best Malayalam novels?

A: Some of the best Malayalam novels include Randamoozham by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Kaalam by N.S. Madhavan, Aarachaar by K.R. Meera, Chemmeen by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, and Ente Katha by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.

Q: Where can I find Malayalam novels online?

A: You can find Malayalam novels online at websites such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Goodreads.

Q: Who are some of the most famous Malayalam novelists?

A: Some of the most famous Malayalam novelists are M.T. Vasudevan Nair, N.S. Madhavan, K.R. Meera, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, and Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.

Anjali K.
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