‘Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal,’ a novel by Benyamin, has won the 45th Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Literary Award.
Instituted by the Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Trust, the award commemorates the celebrated poet and lyricist. It carries a purse of ₹1 lakh, a bronze statuette crafted by the sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman and citation. The novel was selected for the 2021 edition of the coveted prize by a jury consisting of the writers K. R. Meera, George Onakkoor and C. Unnikrishnan.
In ‘Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal,’ Benyamin, who is best known for award-winning novels such as ‘ Aadujeevitham ’ (Goat Days) and ‘ Mullappooniramulla Pakalukal ’ (Jasmine Days) and short stories, presents the inhabitants of Manthalir village, and how the heady mix of politics and religion impacts their daily struggles for existence in this essentially bucolic setting.
In his preface to the work, the author explains that he had begun working on his tales about Manthalir, a village in Pathanamthitta district, long before the regional novel became a fad in Malayalam. He began writing ‘ Akkaporinte Irupathu Nasrani Varshangal ,’ which he calls the first part of the Manthalir stories, in 2005.
Even back then, writes Benyamin, he had in his mind a quartet of ‘twenties’ novels. ‘Twenties’ because he preferred to view human life in phases of 20 years each. ‘Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal’ forms the ‘second part’ of these stories.
Benyamin, born Benny Daniel, hails from Kulanada, Pathanamthitta. He is a recipient of the Kerala Sahithya Akademi Award, the Crossword Book Award, the JCB Prize for Literature and the Muttathu Varkey Award.
Benyamin will be presented the Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Literary Award on October 27, the death anniversary of Ramavarma, at the Nishagandhi Auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram.