‘Bad stories’ set to make a comeback

Dennis Marcus Mathew

A book of five stories written by Malayalam literary stalwarts was banned in 1946 for vulgarity. Now, a

new edition is on

the anvil.

ALAPPUZHA: A book that sparked off a fierce controversy 62 years ago is returning to set the literary scene in Kerala aflame once again. One that contained a selection of five stories by some of the most prominent names in Malayalam literature, ‘Anchu Cheetha Kathakal,’ was banned in the name of vulgarity in 1946. The stories – ‘Kalla Pashu’ (S.K. Pottekad), ‘Bharyayude Kamukan’ (Vaikom Mohammed Basheer), ‘Pathivratha’ (Keshavadev), ‘Naatinpurathe Veshya’ (Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai) and ‘Vithu Kaala’ (Ponkunnam Varkey) — had triggered a storm in the State, with the powers that be in the literary world in those days terming the book a collection of vulgar stories.

Press sealed

The book had 1,000 copes printed and published by T.K. Varghese Vaidyan’s People’s Bookstall in Alappuzha. A few of them were sold, but before all could be sold, the rest were confiscated and destroyed in the backdrop of the Punnapra-Vayalar revolt. The printing press too was sealed.

Now, Vaidyan’s son and Kerala Karshaka Congress State president Lal Varghese Kalpakavadi is set to bring out a new edition of the book under the same name. His reasoning is that, with all the five writers later becoming giants on the Malayalam literary stage, the book will find a good readership apart from being a collector’s item. The book will also be of use to literature students.

Chance discovery

“The opposition to the book and the consequent ban also had a political shade to it with mostly Leftist writers attempting to attack and isolate these five writers. The five were close to my father, who helped them to get the book published and sold. But there are many who were not able to read it following the controversy,” says Mr. Varghese, who chanced upon a copy of the book recently.

Discussions are progressing to decide a publisher and it will not be long before the book reaches stores in the State, he adds.

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