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Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | Translated into English

Moustache (Meesha)

Full Title: Moustache

Author: S. Hareesh
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Translator: Jayasree Kalathil
Original Language: Malayalam

Award Category: Translated into English
About the Book: 

'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.

About the Author: 

S. Hareesh's Moustache (Meesha in the original) is a novel of epic dimensions, deeply rooted in the regional history of Kuttanad. It narrates the history of the social transition of this fertile region in Kerala during colonial times; but it also transcends that history to enter the realm of myth by creating a superhuman being whose elusive and overwhelming presence turns the narrative into a rare fable told in the unique dialect of the region that approaches poetry with its striking images. This novel creates a language within language, and can be placed easily among the most accomplished fictional works in Malayalam. The translator, who obviously had a daunting task before her, has captured the nuanced native beauty of the original narrative. - K. SATCHIDANANDAN

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