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The Cuckoo’s Nest

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

The Cuckoo’s Nest

This novel works like a soothing balm for the human spirit, tired and beaten down by false ideologies.

Full Title: The Cuckoo's Nest

Author: A. Sethumadhavan (Sethu)
Publisher: Niyogi Books

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

The Cuckoo’s Nest is the story of Madam Agatha, a former devout nun who, after renouncing the order, decides to take up the cudgels for the cause of tolerance and pluralism. She decides to set up a unique institution called ‘Nest’ for empowering the hapless girls from all over the country, discarded by society. The paramount condition set by her is that none of the resident girls are allowed to talk of their religion or caste inside the campus. The novelist attempts to portray the kind of challenges she has to face from vested interests all around while working towards secularism, and how she manages to swim against the tide.

The theme is quite contemporary and topical, and some of the issues treated in this novel are staring Indian society and polity in the face today. One increasingly comes across certain divisive forces trying to promote othering in order to disturb the cultural and communal harmony in the country. It is significant here that the eternal optimist Agatha believes strongly that even in this darkest hour, all is not lost. And she continues her fight for what she thinks is right. This novel works like a soothing balm for the human spirit, tired and beaten down by false ideologies.

About the Author: 

A Sethumadhavan (Sethu), born in a small village in Kerala, has been writing stories and novels in Malayalam for the past five decades. He belongs to a highly innovative generation of fiction writers in Malayalam, who pioneered a radical transformation of sensibility during that period. Widely travelled abroad and having worked in different parts of India, many of his writings have a global flavour and a pan-Indian canvas. A winner of many major awards in Malayalam, he has 18 novels and 20 collections of stories to his credit. His novel Adayalangal won him the Vayalar Award in 2005 and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2007. Many of his works have been translated into English and other Indian languages. The Saga of Muziris was published in English translation in 2016, and Aliyah: The Last Jew in the Village in 2018. The Cuckoo’s Nest is his first novel in English. He is known for his magical rendition, weaving in ‘a sense of the impossible’ in a haunting manner, remarkable for the way it attracts a subtext of profound psychological, anthropological and, at times, mystical significance. A banker by profession, Sethu was also the chairman of the National Book Trust, Delhi, for three years.


The first English novel by the noted Malayali writer A Sethumadhavan, popularly known as Sethu, is a landmark by its superb craft and theme, says K. KUNHIKRISHNAN
The Pioneer

In this novel, he has employed a nonlinear style of storytelling with a desi cinematic feel to it. Vignettes of wisdom sparkle through the text and his writing style depicts strains in the man-woman relationship in a very simple yet subtle manner.
Times of India


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