Writer-patriarch of Malayalam Kovilan, well-known for his ‘Pattala kadhakal’ (tales from the barracks), died at a hospital at Kunnamkulam, near here, in the wee hours of Wednesday.
The 87-year-old writer, whose real name is Kandanisseri Vattomparambil Velappan Ayyappan, had been keeping bad health for quite some time. He is survived by two daughters and a son.
Born on July 10, 1923 at Kandanassery in Guruvayur, Kovilan was a freedom fighter, a former anti-submarine detector operator and trade unionist. He worked in the Royal Indian Navy from 1943 to 1946.
Kovilan had written 11 novels, 12 collections of short stories, three collections of essays and one play. He wrote his first novel ‘Thakarnna Hridayangal’ in 1946 when he was 19 years.
Kovilan’s stories that shed light on the lives in and out of military barracks marked a remarkable change in the way stories had been told in Malayalam literature.
His visions are reflected in his works, right from the choice of the subject to the use of the language and imagery. Poverty and hunger had been the primary concerns of the writer.
His quest for human dignity and art of telling complex stories in a stunningly simple language were remarkable.
Writer and social critic Sukumar Azhikode once said that the gap between life and literature was very little in Kovilan's works.
Kovilan was a recipient of the Kerala government's highest literary honour Ezhuthachan Puraskarom in 2006 in recognition of his contribution to Malaylam literature. He won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 1972 and 1977 and the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award in 1998.
He also won Vayalar award in 1999. He was a member of the Kendra Sahitha Akademi.
His novels are `Thakarnna Hridayangal' (1946), `A Minus B' (1958), `Tharavadu' (1963), `Ezhamedangal' ‘Board out’ (1965), `Thazhvarakal' (1969), `Thottangal' (1970), `Himalayam' (1973), `Bharathan' (1976),
`Janmantharangal' (1982) and `Thattakam' (1995).
His collections of short stories are `Oru Palam Manayola' (1957), `Ee Jeevitham Ananthamanu' (1957), `Orikkal Manushyanayirunnu' (1960), `Oru Kashanam Asthi' (1961), `Vendam Kadi' (1969), `Thervazhchakal' (1971), `Pitham' (1971), `Shakunam' (1974), `Adyathe Kathakal' (1978), `Sujatha' (1979), `Theranjedutha Kathakal' (1980) and `Kovilante Kathakal' (1985).
`Thottangal' and `Shakunam' won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Awards in 1972 and 1977 respectively. ‘Thattakam’ received the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1998.