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23 April 1935|
Thiruvalla, Kerala, India
|Died||19 October 2011
Kollam, Kerala, India
|Genre||Novel, short story|
George Varghese Kakkanadan (23 April 1935 – 19 October 2011), commonly known as Kakkanadan, was a Malayalam language short story writer and novelist from Kerala state, South India. His works made clean break from the neo-realism that dominated Malayalam literature through the 1950s and 1960s. He is often credited with laying the foundation of modernism in Malayalam literature. He is a recipient of Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Awards in addition to numerous other awards and recognitions.
Born in Thiruvalla as the second son of evangelist George Kakkanadan and Rosamma, George Varghese Kakkanadan spent most of his childhood at Kollam and Kottarakkara. Though Kakkanadan's father was closely associated with the church, he was a Left sympathiser. Their house in Kottarakkara was a refuge for prominent Communist leaders of the past, who were forced to go hiding. After completing BSc Chemistry from SN College, Kollam, Kakkanadan started his career as a school teacher in Kerala. He quit the job to join Southern Railway in Tamil Nadu in 1957. In 1961 shifted to Ministry of Indian Railways in New Delhi where he worked till 1967. He went to Germany in 1967 on a scholarship to pursue research in literature but abandoned it midway and returned to Kerala to become a full-time writer. Kakkanadan also worked as an editorial member in S. K. Nair's Malayalanadu weekly published from Kollam, between 1971 and 1973.
Artist Rajan Kakkanadan and writers Thampi Kakkanadan and G. Ignatius Kakkanadan are his brothers. Ignatius Kakkanadan, his elder brother, was a journalist and was an editorial board member of Janayugom and Malayalam magazine Soviet Nadu. He was also a noted translator and had translated the works of B. R. Ambedkar under a Kerala Bhasha Institute Project. Kakkanadan's younger brother Thampi Kakkanadan was also a writer who authored several short stories and published a novel- Kalapathinte Orma. Kakkanadan also has two sisters Ammini, wife of the former Member of Parliament P. A. Solomon, and Annie. Kakkanadan married Ammini in 1965. They have three children: Radha, Rajan and Rishi.
Kakkanadan died on 19 October 2011 aged 76 at Bishop Benziger's hospital in Kollam. He was battling cancer for the past few years. He was laid to rest with full state honours at the Polayathode public crematorium complex. He is survived by his wife and three children - two sons (Rajan & Rishi) and a daughter (Radha).
Though he had started writing much before the railway stint and even wrote the novel Vasoori, it was his second novel Sakshi that brought him laurels. The book had a great impact on the younger generation of Malayalam readers and was credited with breaking new grounds in Malayalam literature. In early 1960s, he shot into prominence as one of the most promising writers in Malayalam and was among the pioneers of the modernist trend in Malayalam literature. Kakkanadan's early works broke new ground in Malayalam fiction on account of their earnest exploration of deeper realities of life by employing a new diction and narrative methods. Though vast majority of readers initially found it hard to accept the modern trends ushered in by Kakkanadan and some of his contemporaries, their works soon created a new sensibility marking a radical break from the past.
He was one of the harbingers of modernism in the genres of Malayalam novel and short story. Though labelled by his readers as a formidable ultramodern Malayalam writer, Kakkanadan himself was of the view that modernism in literature has no convincing rationale. Several of his works are considered landmarks in the history of literary modernism in Malayalam. Moving with ease from apocalyptic visions to tantric imagery, he made his works representative of an important strand in the larger modernist trends in arts, literature and culture in India.
Kakkanadan was a rebel, both in life and literature. His rebellion extended from his selection of themes and use of subversive language to his careful crafting of the philosophy of angst into the writing. He often traversed the sweat zones of life and spoke of the valleys of the unknowing. With a stunningly violent style, he shook the very roots of the progressive literary sensibilities of the 1960s and 1970s and its innocent certainties. His was a world of dark tones and darker people, many of them social rejects. He often spoke of the seamy side, the world of puss and blood. Each of his works was an act of rebellion against accepted elitist social mores and codes. Sex, like violence, was a leitmotif in many of his works; at times as a resonant chant, at others as an explosive outpouring of raw human power that transcends both the demonic and the divine. Kakkanadan's major novels are Sakshi (1967), Ezham Mudra (1968), Vasoori (1968), Ushnamekhala (1969), Kozhi (1971), Parankimala (1971), Ajnathayude Thaazhvara (1972), Innaleyude Nizhal (1974), Adiyaravu (1975), Orotha (1982), Ee Naaykkalute Lokam (1983) and Barsaathi (1986). His most noted short story collections are Yuddhaavasaanam (1969), Purathekkulla Vazhi (1970), Aswathamaavinte Chiri (1979), Sreechakram (1981), Alwar Thirunagarile Pannikal (1989), Uchayillaatha Oru Divasam (1989) and Jaappaana Pukayila (2005). He has other novels, short story collections, travelogues and essay collections to his credit. Director Bharathan adapted the novels Parankimala and Adiyaravu for the films Parankiala (1981) and Parvathi (1981). K. G. George's Onappudava (1978) was based on Kakkanadan's novel of the same name. Kakkanadan's short story Chithalukal was made into a film by Kamal, titled Unnikrishnante Adyathe Christmas (1988).
He won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for his short-story collection Aswathamavinte Chiri in 1980 and for his novel Orotha in 1984. In 2005 he won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Jappana Pukayila and in 2008 he was bestowed with the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Fellowship. Kakkanadan was a craze among the younger generation of Kerala during the 1960s and 1970s.
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