10 Must-Read Books by Malayali Authors

The world of books
The world of books | © unknown/Pexels
Charishma Thankappan

Malayalam literature is renowned for its depth of characters and Malayali writers’ ability to bring forth in words the minute aspects of life in their emotional entirety. Malayali stories, therefore, find resonance with readers the world over for the universality of human emotions and understanding. Here are ten must-read books by Malayali authors that will stay with you long after you read them, even in their translated form.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The modern-day book that launched the Malayali identity onto the international scene, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, won the Booker Prize in 1997. Centered on the life of twin siblings Rahel and Estha, it traces their growing up, along with their mother Ammu’s, whose life gets cursed after she dares to love a man below her in society’s class hierarchy.

Buy your copy of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.


Published in 1969, it has undergone more than 50 reprints since, making it one of the biggest bestselling books in Asia. The novel was translated into English by the author himself in 1994, titled The Legends of Khasak. It has also been translated into French and German. The story traces the journey of the protagonist Ravi, who is tormented by the guilt of having an illegitimate love affair with his stepmother.

Buy your copy of The Legends of Khasak by OV Vijayan.


Mathilukal (The Walls) by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Written in 1965, Mathilukal, by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, is one of the all-time classics of Malayalam literature. The legendary tale narrates the love of the central figure Basheer (as the writer himself), who romances Narayani across the wall of a prison which separates them, without the two ever meeting each other. The masterpiece book has been made into an equally brilliant Malayalam film by the same name.

Buy your copy of The Walls by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.


Chemmeen by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai

One of the first classics of modern Malayalam literature, Chemmeen was printed in 1956. It is the tragic romantic saga of Karuthamma and Pareekutty. The story, which was made into a film, became a cult hit and remains a classic of Malayalam cinema as well. The story skilfully depicts the lives of the fishermen community in Kerala, their beliefs, mores, customs, practices, and their intense faith in the sea goddess who shows her wrath upon those who dare to defy her.

Buy your copy of Chemmeen by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai.


Randamoozham (The Second Turn, Bhima: Lone Warrior) by MT Vasudevan Nair

Released in 1984, Randamoozham, meaning “second turn,” is a path-breaking book that re-looked at conventional mythological perspectives. The novel is a recapitulation of the Indian epic Mahabharata from the outlook of Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers. Its cult stardom can be attributed to its departure from the fantasy world of gods to human realities.

Buy your copy of Bhima: Lone Warrior by MT Vasudevan Nair.


Ente Katha (My Story) by Kamala Surayya Das

The autobiography of one of India’s greatest poet and author, Ente Katha (My Story) was published by Madhavikutty, AKA Kamala Das or Kamala Surayya, in 1973. It unravels the turbulent life of one of the most radical feminists in India, who had garnered much vitriol and fulmination for her outspokenness and revelation of her personal life, which invited public resentment, for going against the prescribed norms of behavior for women.

Buy your copy of My Story by Kamala Das.


Oru Sankeerthanam Pole by Perumbadavam Sreedharan

The novel is a fictional setting of the love story of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and his love interest Anna in St. Petersburg, Russia. A winner of several awards, it broke the record of selling more than 100,000 copies 12 years after its publication in 1993. The book’s author, Perumbadavam Sreedharan, has been commended for his intense research of the lives of both Anna and Dostoevsky.


Aadu Jeevitham (Goat Days) by Benyamin

Published in 2008, the novel struck a chord among the present generation of Malayali readers for the portrayal of the real-life events of an abused immigrant worker in Saudi Arabia. Benyamin, the author himself, is based in Bahrain, and has derived the content from his observations in the Middle East. The novel continues to be a bestseller and has been through over 70 reprints.

Buy your copy of Goat Days by Benyamin.


Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil (On the Banks of the River Mayyazhi) by M. Mukundan

Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil (On the Banks of the River Mayyazhi) was published in 1974. The novel recounts the social and political happenings of the region of Mahe (Mayyazhi). The book was translated into English and French and has received widespread acclaim in both languages.

Buy your copy of On the Banks of the River Mayyazhi by M Mukundan.


Agnisakshi by Lalitambika Antarjanam

Originally serialized in the tabloid Mathrubhumi Illustrated Weekly, the stories were consolidated and published as a novel in 1976. It talks about the struggle of a woman bound by her caste into which she was born, trying to break free of the societal shackles to live her life more meaningfully. More renowned for her short stories and poems, Agnisakshi (meaning With Fire as Witness) was Lalitambika Antarjanam’s sole novel.

Buy your copy of Agnisakshi: Fire, My Witness by Lalitambika Antarjanam.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article