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12 July 2015 | Kochi, Kerala
MOTERWRITER.COM reviews the latest hit novel – Agni
An introspective, impressionistic translation of a Malayalam masterpiece
Author C. Radhakrishnan’s novelette ‘Agni’ is a finely crafted introspection into the emotion of love and its myriad forms. The source of many different emotions found in men can often be traced back to this single emotion. And it’s often the tipping point that makes our mind oscillate between the different levels of sanity. The good and the bad that comes out of it have always stupefied humanity and the following story is a fine example of the human mind’s predicament when engulfed in an all consuming fire, the Agni (fire) of love. Originally published in 1963 in Malayalam, the English translation is now available for a wider consumption. The book was also made into a feature film in 1973 in India with the author himself writing and directing it.
Some of the great novels in Malayalam language have been centered around a community or a locality of people and their local customs. In fact, the setting of the story itself gives the narrative its charm and connection to the reader. And Agni authored by C Radhakrishnan is no different when it comes to the use of such a ‘place’ to narrate its tale. Set in Chamravattom in Malappuram district (Kerala, India) it’s not only the author’s home town but the ‘place’ where the simplistic and yet profoundly brilliant inquisition into the emotion of love and the repercussions when the human animal goes through it is documented.
Moosa is a literary hero in all sense of the word and yet people won’t rush in to label him as either a good man or a bad man. He is a man possessed by his love for his sole child, a 17 year old lame girl called Amina. And it’s this restlessness born out of despair and perhaps a bit of guilt that makes him act and talk in such a brutish manner. Poetic and complex with a wonderful grip on human relationships, Agni has retained its freshness for over 40 years and its true to life characters have found a place in the hearts of readers in all the languages it has been published in.
We spoke with some members at a popular online book forum about the book, a member, Ravi said “It’s really interesting to note that this famed writer is also a scientist and it’s something this poet can’t shrug off his work because even when he’s creating such beautiful prose or talking about human emotions, there’s a very scientific cause and effect take on it and this is creatively and intellectually highly stimulating.” Kevin Peter who reviewed the book for Moterwriter.com said that the book slowly reveals the change in Moosa’s behavior prior to the violent act by talking to various characters and the suspense behind this ghastly act has been maintained till the very last page. “Indian culture can never be pigeonholed into a particular slot because of its vast diversity but for the foreign reader this will be a good peek into the cultural flavors of this little piece of land and for the native readers, everything in this book is bound to make you nostalgic and remind you of home.”
About the author:
Born on 15 February 1939 at Chamravattom, Malappuram, in the state of Kerala in India C. Radhakrishnan is one among the most reputed living writers in the language of Malayalam. A scientist turned writer, he has contributed to all branches of creative literature, mostly fiction, besides popular science.
He was given the Kerala Sahitya Akademi’s Annual Award for the Best Book published in Malayalam during the year 1962 at the young age of 23, a record that stays. He’s also the recipient of Murtidevi Award of the Bharatiya Gnanapith Trust (2013) for the best creative work in Indian languages. He helped launch and establish Science Today (Times of India), the first popular science magazine of India at a young age of 24 years and later held senior positions with various national print media organs. He’s a filmmaker too; two of his four creations form part of the Indian Panorama of Feature Films. Some of his literary works translated to English are – Agni, Now For a Tearful Smile, Birds That Fly Ahead, Patches of Shade & Maybe Another Day.
Connect with him at – http://c-radhakrishnan.info
Discover C. Radhakrishnan’s book at –
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