Blurb (as on Goodreads):
A research scholar whose notebook reveals a surreal pig farm… A psychologist in search of the truth about one of his clients… An aspiring writer who emulates Gogol… The unforgettable men and women in N. Prabhakaran’s stories have an uncanny ability to expose the fault lines between the real and the unreal, the normal and the mad, as they explore their own inner worlds and psychic wounds. A pioneer of the post-modern aesthetic turn, N. Prabhakaran weaves the nitty- gritty of everyday, small-town lives into his stories – all set in northern Kerala – that are steeped in folklore, nature, factional politics, and the intricacies of human relationships. Brilliantly translated by Jayasree Kalathil, Diary of a Malayali Madman marks the very first time this major Indian writer’s work is available in English.
A collection of 5 short stories about everyday characters and their way of leading their otherwise normal life is what ‘The Diary of a Malayali Madman’ has to offer.
Each story starts with a brilliant description of a character and his social standing, followed by the aspect of life we are taking a microscopic look at. I liked the writing, right from the start. It was engrossing, fluid and enveloping. The characters are eccentric and their actions and emotions are truly dramatic, even though mediocre is what the author wanted to achieve.
But the plot is what I failed to grasp. I understand the myriad of tiny events the author wanted us to look at, but I didn’t see the point (maybe there wasn’t one). As a reader, I always look for closure and this book didn’t have one. It’s open-ended and could mean anything, depending on the reader.
There’s probably only one story that I liked and that’s the last one. And that is because the translator told the world how it helped him deal with grief and I see that. The actual short story ‘The Diary of a Malayali Madman’ is chaos at its worst and inspiring at its best.
The book also comes with insights and exclusive interview that strangely puts a lot of my thoughts into perspectives and for that I grateful to Barsha @booktalesanddonuts. She is the one who suggested me to read these ‘extra’ materials.
Maybe a tiny bit of the essence was lost in translation, but this book has left me at a conclusion I am truly uncertain about. Maybe, read it for yourself and find out?
‘The Diary of a Malayali Madman’ is a contemporary and abstract collection of otherwise insignificant events and stories, that is looking for its best-fit. The stories are contrasting and its actually fun reading them provided they resonate with you.