These are some of the books I bought very recently. They are Randamoozham by MT Vasudevan Nair, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, The Meaning of it All by Richard P Feynman, Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant and Feynman’s Lectures on Physics. I have not read any Malayalam novels till now. My malayalam reading was strictly restricted to Catechism and very rarely newspapers. I recently realized that I was missing out on some classic works whose charm can never be captured by a translation.
One of my friends recently happened to mention that she found malayalam novels to be better than English ones. While I did not agree with that I could understand why someone would think that. A language is not merely a tool for communication. It is, in a manner, a representation of a particular culture and way of life. Of a particular style of thinking. Of a particular way of seeing things. Closely tied to the geography, food, culture, values and sensibilities of a particular people.
A work written in a language conveys depths of information that are visible only to the people who are from that culture or have deeply studied it. No one can relate to the ideas and understand the subtle meanings that the author tries to convey as well as a native speaker of that language. This could be the reason why a person would consider books written in his/her language better than books in other languages.
Sometimes, it is not just the language that matters. People tend to have a bias towards authors from similar surrounding as themselves. For example, God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a book that I simply adore. Obviously, it is a very well written book that has a captivating style. But, over and above that, when I read it I remember my childhood in Kerala and it brings back memories of the rural lifestyle in my state. These recollections make the experience a more enjoyable one.
I have received some recommendations for some more must-read malayalam books. Planning to acquire them soon! Any recommendations that you might have are welcome!
- M.T. Vasudevan Nair chosen for Ezhuthachan Award (thehindu.com)