Kochi: Novelist Narayan, one of the pioneers of subaltern writing in Malayalam, died here on Tuesday. He was 82. Narayan died while undergoing treatment for Covid at a private hospital.
Born in 1940 at Kadayathur in Idukki district of Kerala, Narayan is often referred to as the first tribal novelist from Kerala in literary discourses. He belongs to the Malayarayar tribe.
His debut novel "Kocharethi", which explored the life, history and miseries of the Malayarayar tribe won him the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 1998.
The novel is set in the Western Ghats in the early 20th Century.
An English translation of the novel, titled “Kocharethi: The Araya Woman”, by Catherine Thankamma was published by the Oxford University Press in 2011. It won the Economist-Crossword Book Award in the Indian language translation category that year.
The works has also been translated into several other Indian languages and French.
Narayan's other works include “Ooraalikudi”, “Chengarum Kuttalum”, “Vannala”, “Ee Vazhiyil Aalereyilla”, “Aaranu Tholkkunnavar” (novels), “Nissahayante Nilavili” and “Pelamarutha” (short stories).
He was an employee of the Postal Department and retired as a post master in 1995.
Narayan has also won Thoppil Ravi Foundation Award, Abu Dhabi Shakthi Award and Swami Ananda Theertha Award.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, among others, condoled the death.
"His writings on living conditions of tribal communities were a reflection of their life experiences," Vijayan said.
Satheesan said Narayan was able to present the life experiences of the Malayarayar community before society through his novel 'Kocharethi'.
"Even though 'Kocharethi' was the first novel of Narayan, he received many awards for the same. That novel has been translated into several languages and made part of the curriculum by many universities. His demise is an irreparable loss to Malayalam literature," Satheesan said.