Press Information

First German anthology of contemporary Malayalam writing published

Fiction and poetry of 21 well-known authors in one volume

Bonn/Thiruvananthapuram, 18/09/2006. Just a couple of weeks before the Frankfurt Book Fair with India as guest of honour opens its portals this year, an anthology of contemporary Malayalam fiction and poetry in German language has been published. The official presentation of the book will take place on the 6th of October at the premises of the Book Fair in Fankfurt in the presence of the two stalwarts among Malayalam writers: Paul Zacharia and K. Satchidanandan. Most of the stories and poems in the volume are direct translations from Malayalam into German. A few are translated from English by translators who are closely linked to Kerala, its language and culture. The anthology is the first of its kind to appear in German from any of the South Indian languages so far.

The book has 208 pages with translations of 16 short stories (including Paul Zacharia’s short novel “Praise the Lord”) and 9 poems, the title story being “Three Blindmen describe the elephant” by E. Santhoshkumar. K. Satchidanandan, the former general secretrary of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, has written an introduction for the book. The volume is a vintage of chosen works mostly by giants in their own genre like M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Sethu, Kamla Das, O.N.V. Kurup, Paul Zacharia, N.S. Madhavan, Ashita, Ayyappa Panickar, K.Satchidanandan etc. The new generation writers like E. Santhoshkumar, Arshath Batheri, Anitha Thampi und T.P. Rajeevan are also represented. The anthology is edited by Mrs Christina Kamp (German translator, long-time Kerala fan and friend of Malayalam language and culture) and Jose Punnamparambil (Indian journalist from Kerala settled in Germany since 1966) and has been published by Horlemann Verlag, a German publisher specialised in books on South- and South-East Asia.

Although German missionaries like Hanxleden (Arnos Padri) and Dr. Hermann Gundert have contributed substantially to strengthening and developing Malayalam as a literary language,  the great works and authors of the Malayalam language remain an unknown quantity for most of the German readers even today. The only two important works which got translated into German decades ago from their original English versions are Thakazhi’s “Chemmeen” and Kamala Das’ “My Story”. Very rarely one or two short stories or poems got translated from English versions and were published in anthologies or magazines. It was in 1997 that a Malayalam story, namely, Zacharia’s “Annamma Teacher- a Memoir” was directly translated from Malayalam into German and included in an anthology of contemporary Indian writing  published by “die horen” at the intiative of the German writer and author Dr. Martin Kämpchen, living in Shantiniketan. A collected work of Zacharia’s 15 stories appeared in 2004, edited by Jose Punnamparambil and published by Horlemann Verlag. Most of the stories in this work including the title story “Bhaskara Pattelar and my life” were direct translations from Malyalam into German. The same year O.V. Vijayan’s “The legends of Khasak” was translated from English into German and published by one of the biggest publishing companies in Germany, The Insel Verlag. That is about what German readers have seen of Malayalam literature so far. “With the present anthology, and with a volume of Satchidanandan’s poetry (also direct translation from Malayalam into German) scheduled to come out in a few days, big strides have been made to bring German readers closer to the vibrancy and dynamism of current Malayalam literature,” says editor Jose Punnamparambil.

The title of the Anthology: “Three Blindmen describe the Elephant”

German title: Drei Blinde beschreiben den Elefanten

Stories and poems included (original titles):

Kaazhcha by M.T. Vasudevan Nair
Kadaltheerathu by O.V. Vijayan
Suryagitam by O.N.V. Kurup
Lockup by Madhavikutty (Kamala Das)
Bhavi by M. Mukundan
Duuthu by Sethu
Kurathi by Kadammanitta
Oridathu by Paul Zacharia
Higuita by N.S. Madhavan
Makkal by C.V. Balakrishnan
Svargam, Kuthiranruttam by Ayyappa Panickar
Thavokshethrathil Pokendathengane, Aranu Paranjathu by K. Satchidanandan
Pigman by N. Prabhakaran
Kalathappam by Babu Bharadwaj
Pakaram Oral by Ashita
Ezhuthu, Paavam by Anitha Thampi
Muunnu Andhanmaar Aaanaye Vivarikkunnu by E. Santhoshkumar
Muunnam Lokathe Nilavili by Arshath Batheri
Njan vriddhanayathengane by Edward Nazareth
Eezhu Kanyakamaar by Abraham Mathew
Neelakurinje by T.P. Rajeevan
Praise the Lord by Paul Zacharia

Editors: Christina Kamp and Jose Punnamparambil

Translators: Annakutty V.K. Findeis, Thomas Chakkiath and Jose Punnamparambil (from Malayalam directly into German); Christina Kamp, Asok Punnamparambil and Bernd Kolossa (translated from English versions into German)

Publishing company: Horlemann Verlag, 53572 Unkel, Germany

Published in cooperation with the National Book Trust India 

208 Pages, paper back, published in September 2006