“Diary Of A Malayali Madman” is an anthology of five short stories. “Wild Goat” is the story of Georgooty, who doesn’t fit into the world. He is lost in his own world which other people cannot/do not understand. “Tender Coconut” is the story of psychologist Vivek and his encounter with Mohannan, a tender coconut seller. “Pigman” is Sreekumar’s story. Sreekumar works in a pig farm and where the pigs are dying mysteriously. Krishna’s story is “Invisible Forests“. Krishna is an unmarried woman who works as a lecturer in college and has very few friends. The last story is “Diary of a Malayali Madman“, the story of Agni. The stories are written as diary entries by the protagonists. The common theme is how the characters do not fit the definition of normal. The book also has the text of the conversation between the author N.Prabhakaran and translator Jayasree Kalathil. Reading through this conversation helps the reader gain a better insight into the book.
Small towns and villages of Kerala come alive through the pages of these diaries. Through the eyes of the so-called madmen, the author tries to explore society. There is sexual fantasy, sibling rivalry, casteism, misogyny, political insanity, all explored and visualised in the book, albeit from a different angle. “Diary of A Malayali Madman” and “Invisible Forests” were my pick of the lot. “Invisible Forests” is the story of Krishna. It shows the mental state of who is unmarried and prefers her own counsel. Krishna refuses to fit into the box that society wants to put her in. The story is of countless other women, who do not speak much but fill up the blank pages of their diaries with their musings. “Diary of a Malayali Madman” is Agni’s story of how he perceives the world. Through his observations of the world, you wonder who is really sane, him or the world.
This book was very hard to read and thus review. The book does not follow any pattern of normalness. Even after reading the book, you might be left pondering as to the point of it all. It tries to explore the world through characters, whom people would call “mad“. But what makes a person mad? Is the person mad because the person doesn’t fit into the mould set by society, or is it because their way of looking at the world is different? The book is quite an uncomfortable read. But sometimes, we become so used to linear narratives that we get trapped in them. We then need an uncomfortable book to jolt us, like this one. The book challenges our definition of “normal”. It explores the untouched areas of mental health. And then it makes the reader think.
In my frank opinion, “Diary Of A Malayali Madman” is not everyone’s cup of tea. The book might make you question the concept of sanity. However, the way the matter is presented in the book makes it difficult for the reader to understand the hidden nuances. The book requires mental fortitude and dedication to understand it completely.
This book was given to me for an honest review through the Blogchatter Review Program.
This book is available on Amazon