The Best of Kerala Fiction Books

Our list of books about Kerala or set in Kerala that capture the essence of the state. We have our own “haiku” like short stories that we publish from our own mystical small village somewhere in Thrissur which you can read here – Tales from a Small Kerala Village.

Below is a small set which is in no way exhaustive. If you can recommend more or think that we have left some shocking omissions – comment.

These are the fiction books. We will follow up with non-fiction next month.

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Almost the quintessential account of a Kerala childhood in the backwaters near Kottayam. Recognised as a classic of Indian literature.

The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

The story weaves through the spice markets  and the lives of the last remaining Jews of Cochin in the protagonist’s mother’s life

Indulekha – O. Chandu Menon (1889)

The first novel in Malayalam continues to be a trailblazer and takes us through the social life of an 18th century teenage girl with Austenesque hues. She is beautiful, intelligent, well-read and bold!

My Story – Kamala Das

This almost autobiographical story about the author, Kamala Das and her growth into womanhood, her quest for love both inside and outside her marriage and life later in her matriarchal ancestral home took Kerala by storm in the 70s!

Age of Kali – William Dalrymple

The book in the form of a travelogue has a chapter on ‘Parashakthi’ where the author visits Chottanikkara near Kochi. Mysticism and Kaliyuga meet seamlessly here.

Nine Lives – William Dalrymple

A chapter on the life of Hari Das, a labourer and weekend prison warder who takes on the divine persona of the goddess during Theyyam months and worshipped even by Brahmins.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

The magical zoo in the book is the Thiruvanthapuram zoo and the young Pi’s foray into Christianity happens on a visit to the hills of Munnar.

Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend – Robert James Waller

Author of The Bridges of Madison County takes us off to Kerala for the climax of his follow-up. Not about Kerala, per se, but hey, it features with the forests of Thekkady in parts and opens up at  Thiruvanthapuram railway station.

A Monsoon Feast – Short Stories

Portfolio of short stories that explores the monsoon cultures of Kerala and Singapore

Daughters of Kerala – 2006

series of short stories that explore the experience of Kerala Women in the state by women. Trandlated from Malayalam

Mistress – Anita Nair

Intense romantic tale set in Kerala

Where the Rain is Born: Writings About Kerala – Anita Nair (Editor)

34 stories compiled together all having being connected to Kerala in some way. A melange of authors (mostly written in English & some translation from original-Malayalam)

Bhaskara Pattelar and Other Stories – Paul Zacharia

Stories from Ithihyamala: Fables of Kerala. Colour Illustration – 2001

Wonderful collection of stories about Kerala

Links:

Monde Diplomatique (french Newspaper) about Kerala’s love of reading

Sholto Ramsay

Boss, motivator and general eccentric with a deep love of Kerala and India who just wants everyone to enjoy an amazing and life enhancing experience of Kerala.

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