M. T. Vasudevan Nair was born in Kudallur, a village in the southern Indian state of Kerala, in 1933. His first short stories, written in his native language, Malayalam, were published in several magazines while he was a youth. The young author’s first volume of narratives came out in 1952. His debut novel »Nalukettu« (1958; Eng. »The Ancestral House«,1959) won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1959. The National Book Trust made it possible for him to have the book translated into all the official languages of India. Since then he has written about ten more novels, including »Asuravithu« (1962; Eng. »The Demon Seed and Other Writings«,1998), »Manju« (1964; t: Snow) and »Kaalam« (1969; Eng. »Kaalam«, 1998). He has also published some twenty volumes of short stories, as well as travelogues, literary essays and children’s books. He has been honoured with the Jnanpith Award, the most prestigious Indian literary award, and numerous other accolades. But M. T. Vasudevan Nair has not only made a reputation for himself as an author and long time editor of the influential weekly literary magazine »Mathrubhumi«, but also as the prize winning script writer and director of Malayalam movies. His cinema work includes more than forty film scripts, and the direction of six feature films, three documentaries and one TV series. His literary and cinematographic oevres focus on rural south Indian society. British colonialism and the independence of India led to fundamental changes of traditional matrilineal structures in the northern Kerala (Nair) communities. M. T. Vasudevan Nair is considered the principal chronicler of the breakdown of the family system. Many narratives draw from the history of Kudallur, Nair’s home village, which is characterised by the dissolving of feudal structures and values. Nair uses a concise and lyrical language to depict the correlation between conditions of society and the anxieties and emotional involvements of his characters. This is true also in his novel »Randamoozham« (1984; Eng. »Second Turn«, 1997) which is based on the Indian epic »Mahabharata«. Nair’s respectful recreation of the classic is told from the point of view of the war hero Bhima, who gains, through the author’s ironic undertones, a new psychological depth. »I have not changed the framework of the story by the first Vyasa, Krishna-Dwaipayana. I have read between his lines and expanded on his pregnant silences.« M. T. Vasudevan Nair lives in Calicut/Kerala, India.
© international literature festival berlin