Travel

Read Your Way Around the World by NYT lavishes praise on Kerala’s literary space

Read Your Way Around the World series lists out good reads for everyone interested in exploring the southern Indian state.

When prominent media platform The New York Times (NYT) brought out a series titled Read Your Way Around the World’ with American writer Abraham Verghese, it turned out to be a classic ready reckoner for travellers around the world who love to explore the world through the medium of books. Significantly enough, Kerala, rich with its nature, spices and eclectic culture and history, has also been prominently featured in the series that is gaining much attention since its publication.

NYT’s Read Your Way Around the World’ series lists out good reads for everyone interested in exploring the southern Indian state. American author and physician Abraham Verghese, born to Keralite parents, has lavished praise on Kerala and has recommended an exhaustive list of books for those who are interested in the state which is also known as God’s Own Country, or planning to travel to explore the unique experience awaiting them.

Kerala books in Read Your Way Around the World

The author notes that “if you arrive in Kerala from elsewhere in India, you’ll feel as though you’ve landed in a different country”. He goes on to add: “There is no better place to read than on the deck of your own houseboat travelling down shady waterways, while the fish you caught is being prepared in the open-air kitchen at the back of the boat”.

An elated Minister for Tourism, P A Mohammed Riyas, has responded saying that it is fascinating to know that Kerala has figured in New York Times’ Read Your Way Around the World series. This will especially serve as a guide for travellers interested in history and culture. This will bring to spotlight the literary and heritage tourism that Kerala has been promoting actively.

While some of the titles that Abraham Verghese recommends are written on Kerala by explorers and historians panning over centuries some others are widely-read Malayalam literary works, which have been translated into English and other languages. Verghese gives a snapshot of how the renowned spice coast attracted the Arab traders first followed by westerners starting with the Portuguese followed by the Dutch, the French and the English, before listing out the books worth trying to know Kerala better.

Literary tourism spotlight on Kerala

Beginning on a cautious note that books of Kerala’s history can feel tedious, he says “a first-time traveler is better off with a broader introduction to India, like V.S. Naipaul’s incisive and inimitable “India: A Million Mutinies Now,” paired with “The Idea of India “by Sunil Khilnani. The author’s list of good reads includes Shashi Tharoor’s “Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India,” Lathika George’s “The Kerala Kitchen,” which he describes as a colourful travelogue, memoir and cookbook and “Goat Days,” by Benyamin.

His list of Kerala-related titles also has Nigel Cliff’s “Holy War: How Vasco da Gama’s Epic Voyages Turned the Tide in a Centuries-Old Clash of Civilizations”, Tanya Abraham’s “Fort Cochin: History and Untold Stories”, Salman Rushdie’s “The Moor’s Last Sigh,” N S Madhavan’s “Litanies of Dutch Battery,” Jack Turner’s “Spice: The History of a Temptation,” Arundhati Roy’s  “The God of Small Things,” V K Madhavan Kutty’s “The Village Before Time,” Anita Nair’s “The Better Man,” Paul Chirakkarode’s “Pulayathara,” and Narayan’s “Kocharethi: The Arya Woman.”

He adds that even if one is limited to works translated into English, there are many to choose from, and has listed a few of his favourites. They include famed writer Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s “Poovan Banana and Other Stories” and M T Vasudevan Nair’s “The Demon Seed and Other Writings.” He also mentions Paul Zacharia’s quirky, humorous and inventive writing style in “Bhaskara Patellar and Other Stories,” and “The Reflections of a Hen in Her Last Hour and Other Stories. “

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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