Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Review - Moustache by S. Hareesh, Translated by Jayasree Kalathil


Titile - Moustache

Author - S. Hareesh

Trasnlator - Jayasree Kalathil

Publisher - Harpercollins India

Pages - 360

Blurb - 'A novel of epic dimensions ... easily among the most accomplished fictional works in Malayalam.' K. SATCHIDANANDAN Vavachan is a Pulayan who gets the opportunity to play a policeman with an immense moustache in a musical drama. The character appears in only two scenes and has no dialogue. However, Vavachan's performance, and his moustache, terrify the mostly upper-caste audience, reviving in them memories of characters of Dalit power, such as Ravanan. Afterwards, Vavachan, whose people were traditionally banned from growing facial hair, refuses to shave off his moustache. Endless tales invent and reinvent the legend of his magic moustache in which birds roost, which allows its owner to appear simultaneously in different places and disappear in an instant, which grows as high as the sky and as thick as rainclouds - and turn Vavachan into Moustache, a figure of mythic proportions. Set in Kuttanad, a below-sea-level farming region on the south-west coast of Kerala, the novel is as much a story of this land as it is of Vavachan and its other inhabitants. As they navigate the intricate waterscape, stories unfold in which ecology, power dynamics and politics become key themes. Originally published in Malayalam as Meesha, S. Hareesh's Moustache is a contemporary classic mixing magic, myth and metaphor into a tale of far-reaching resonance.

Review - Moustache by S. Hareesh translated by Jayasree Kalathil.
I would say this novel has something unique. To be honest, In the beginning, I wasn't able to connect with the story, But when I started reading with more attention, I felt a connection to the story.
The story is set in Kuttanad, a below-sea-level farming region on the south-west coast of Kerala, the novel is as much a story of this land as it is of Vavachan and its other inhabitants. 
Vavachan, the protagonist plays a beautiful role in this novel which is a blend of Magic, Myth and Metaphor. Vavachan is a Pulayan who gets the opportunity to play a policeman with an immense moustache in a musical drama. He got a chance to appear in only two scenes with no dialogue. However, Vavachan's performance, and his moustache, terrify the mostly upper-caste audience, reviving in them thoughts of characters of Dalit power. Afterwards, Vavachan, whose people were traditionally banned from growing facial hair, just because they belong to the lower social caste order, refuses to shave off his moustache and decides to grow his moustache further. 
To know what is waiting for Vavachan after his decision you have read this beautiful book.
The author has approached the delicate subject in a well-polished way. The characters lived through every page. Though the outline may look simple - "Dalits Vs Upper-Caste", the struggle and pains which they have gone through during the British rule couldn't have been described better than this. The book also talks about so many issues like caste discrimination, misuse of powers, poverty, etc. 
I must say that the author has done a great job by presenting this kind of story to read also a big thanks to the translator for delivering this story across the readers who can't read and understand Malayalam.

Thank you, HarperCollins India for the copy.


 Ratings

Cover: 4/5
Blurb: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Available on Amazon




About the Author - S. Hareesh is the author of three short-story collections: Adam, which received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Rasavidyayude Charithram, and Appan. He is also a recipient of the Geetha Hiranyan Endowment, the Thomas Mundassery Prize, and the V.P. Sivakumar Memorial Prize. Moustache (Meesha in the original Malayalam) is his first novel. Hareesh is also the author of two screenplays - for the film Aedan, which received the Kerala State Award for best screenplay in 2017, and for the 2019 film Jallikattu, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and won a silver peacock at the International Film Festival of India. Hareesh works in the revenue department, and hails from Neendoor in Kottayam district, Kerala.

About the Translator Jayasree Kalathil's translations have been published in the Malayalam Literary Review; No Alphabet in Sight, an anthology of Dalit writing; and as part of Different Tales, a book series for children. Her translation of Kerala writer, N. Prabhakaran's novellas, Diary of a Malayali Madman, was shortlisted for the 2019 Crossword Book Award for Indian Language Translation. She is the author of The Sackclothman, a children's book that has been translated into Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi.





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Review - Moustache by S. Hareesh, Translated by Jayasree Kalathil

Titile -   Moustache Author -  S. Hareesh Trasnlator -  Jayasree Kalathil Publisher -  Harpercollins India Pages -  36...