Six years after his Central and Kerala Sahitya Akademi award-winning book Manushyanu Oru Aamukham was first published, Malayalam author Subhash Chandran is excited to see its English translation (A Pr
Six years after his Central and Kerala Sahitya Akademi award-winning book Manushyanu Oru Aamukham was first published, Malayalam author Subhash Chandran is excited to see its English translation (A Preface to Man) finally come out this month. “A novel, with the mise en scene that is quintessentially Malayalee may yet have global appeal, not just as something exotic, but as an argument for the creative spirit of man. That angst, anxiety and ambiguity, about the need for a purpose of life for the sentient being, is universal, and will transcend the barriers of language,” Subhash says. He also praises translator Dr Fathima E.V., “The translation has succeeded in conveying the true essence of the book in another language.”
First writing at the age of fifteen, Subhash says his first influences were Mehdi Hassan and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, with the latter’s philosophical novel The Brothers Karamazov keeping him up at night. “In an old notebook, I wrote down Ivan’s question, ‘ is there anyone who doesn’t wish his father’s death ’ and under that, I wrote down a question of my own. ‘Is there anyone who doesn’t desire his mother ’ That was the beginning of my first story, Oedipusnte Amma (Mother of Oedipus),” says Subhash.
The inception of the book — which deals with issues such as equality, love, caste and religion, told through various characters over three generations of a feudal Nair family in Kerala — was a short story written over two decades ago. “The novel that I wanted to write was the emotional history of a century... Even the form of the novel changed during this long process. The first version had 72 chapters divided among Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, the fourfold division of the Purushartha in Indian philosophy. Eventually, it was condensed into 42 chapters,” Subhash explains.
Subhash is currently working on another novel titled Samudrasila, which will be serialised in a weekly publication, and what he says is about how a “woman is a greater being”.