Penguin Random House India said on Saturday it has acquired three new titles by critically acclaimed Malayalam writer V.J. James, to be translated into English by Ministhy S. and with the first of the novels coming out in February, 2022.
More recently, the richest and one of the most distinguished awards for literary fiction, the JCB Prize for Literature, longlisted James’ novel “Anti-Clock”, also translated by Ministhy and published by Penguin.
“Nireeswaran” is the most celebrated of James’ works, for which he received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Vayalar Award, Kerala Bhasha Institute Award and the Basheer Puruskaram.
Originally published in 2014, the novel questions blind faith and ritualistic religion and provides an insight into what true spirituality is. Three rationalists, and pranksters, establish the idol of what they call an anti-god (Nireeswaran) to show people how hollow their religion is. When miracles start being attributed to Nireeswaran, and hordes turn up to worship the fake god, the trio is put in a quandary. Will they fight their own creation? Using incisive humour and satire, the novel showcases how love and spirituality are deeply interconnected.
“The Book of Exodus” is James’ impressive first novel, which won the DC Silver Jubilee Award. Kunjootty is hospitalized the same day that Susanna goes missing. There is a mystery surrounding this which unravels during the course of the novel. Filled with folklore and myths, set amidst the waterways and reeds of Kerala’s isles, and peopled with locals and outsiders with mysterious pasts, the novel has an ethereal quality to it.
The third book is a powerhouse of a novel.
Mahesh and his four friends – each named after a Pandava brother – and Panchali, or Meera, decide to look for their friend, guide, leader Freddie Robert, whom they had named Yudhisthira. Freddie had disappeared into the forest several months ago, in search of a rare new bird. Thus begins “Dattapaharam”, a rumination on solitude, man’s connection with nature, and the strings that attach us to this world.
Talking about his three novels, V.J. James said: “It is my pleasure to publish three more novels after ‘Anti-Clock’ through Penguin Random House India, brilliantly translated by Ministhy S. There is a saying that each book will find its true reader. I hope that these books, too, will find their readers.”
Saying she considered it a “true privilege’ to work with a “brilliant, visionary” author, Ministhy S., an IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, added: “Translating the fantastic, multiple-award winning books of James has been a wonderful experience. Each has a totally different theme and is striking in its ambition and style. Indeed, I am confident that the incisive humour, deep spirituality, iconoclastic perspectives and the all-pervasive humanity in the books will find fans across the world.”