Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Diary of a Malayali Madman by N Prabhakaran - Book Review


Author : N Prabhakaran

Translator : Jayashree Kalathil

Genre : Literary and Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5


N. Prabhakaran is a major contemporary writer from Kerala and has been awarded the state Sahitya Akademi Award twice. Jayasree Kalathil is a writer and translator based in London. Prabhakaran's Diary of a Malayali Madman won the Crossword Book Award for Fiction in Translation in 2019, and Jayasree's translation of S. Hareesh's Moustache won the JCB Prize for Literature in 2020.


This book is an anthology of five short stories which are eccentric ,short and crisp. All the stories are different from one another but all of them are dealing with the most pertinent issues in todays world and that is "Mental Health". Diary of Malyali Madman is a story about madness, politics, love and obsession. Every character in the story has a different perspective about their surroundings. Set in North Kerala, the stories are mostly in the form of diary entries. All five Protagonist Georgekutty, Mohanan, Sreekumar and Aagney are anxious to tell their stories to the outside world. The Protagonist in each story deals with collision of realities and deception of life.

Out of five stories my favorite is "Pigman", which author has adapted into a feature film as well. It is a story about young man who works as a junior accountant on a farm that rears Berkshire pigs for slaughter. It shows how he is slowly driven to hallucinating about pigmen. Will not reveal too much about the stories but the characters in each story is so unpredictable that, in spite of being in complete denial of social norms they always find themselves trapped in an sealed environment because of their unstable mind. I won't be wrong if I say that each character in the story are mentally unwell and incapable to adapt themselves into this society.

This book is translated by Jayashree Kalathil, whose own intense research deals with mental health. This book along with 5 unique stories also contains insights, interviews and more with the author.


What I found missing here is, there is no closure. Every story was open ended and , as a reader we can think about anything according to our own understanding which might not matches what writer really wants to convey. This may dilute the writer's vision. If you are looking for a story which are unusual and ends with unexpected twist and short read than go for it.


Kindle Edition: INR 223.30

Paperback : INR 244

Pages : 260

Publisher :Harper Perennial India

Available on Amazon

This post is part of BookChatter, Blogchatter's #BookReview program.



  1. The time of the book is interesting but I like the books with a proper closure. Not sure if this is of my kind or not.

  2. Sounds like quite an interesting read. Though I do loathe open-ended short stories. I feel like they take away from the entire story if there's no satisfying conclusion.

  3. Interesting but even I don't like stories with open endings. I need to feel that satisfaction the characters are either happy or aiming for a positive end.

  4. Mental health is an important topic and it is great that this book covering it with through short stories. the open ended plot seems interesting to me. would love to give it a read.

  5. Interesting subject - I actually enjoy open-ended short stories especially if they are creative and leaning towards being bizarre! Will check it out.
    Noor Anand Chawla

  6. This looks like an amazing read. Regional content and stories have a unique flavor and are bold enough to deal with unique topics. Will add this to my tbr

  7. Mental health is very important, love the fact that this book is covering important aspect. I might give the book a pass, not a fan of books without proper closure, I feel lost. Thanks for your honest feedback

  8. Happy endings make me happy and stories left incomplete just don't satisfy me as a reader. But the book does feel like a good read.

  9. I would love to read this translated version of Diary of Malayali madman. The Pigman story looks quite nice. Of course when mental health issues are addresses carefully in such stories then the book becomes a must read.

  10. I am happy that you have given such honest review as it helps in making an informed decision before buying a book. I wish this one had good closure too.

  11. While I enjoy short stories, I too don't like stories which have an unfinished end. Writer has left the end to our imagination and that cod mean anything to us which might not match to what the writer was actually thinking while writing the story.

  12. Of late open-ended stories is the trend it seems. Leaving the climax to the imagination of the reader may be but this approach sometimes kills the reading experience.

  13. This book sounds interesting, though may be a tad triggering, but insightful probably into the minds of different kinds of men and without a proper closure to the story, i can imagine any ending i like :)

  14. It's interesting to have five different stories with mental health as the basic thread running through them. However, considering the seriousness of this issue a closure would've been better for the reader's mental health!

  15. Books that focus on mental health are quite tricky and the stories are connected to the readers with the state of mind. Closure in these stories is vital as it gives ray of hope and direction to thoughts.

  16. Maybe i should give it a try to understand my compatriots better.