George Varghese Kakkanadan- The Modernist Writer

George Varghese Kakkanadan from Thiruvalla

George Varghese Kakkanadan– The Eminent Writer and Novelist, he was one of the pioneers in modern Malayalam Literature.

He was commonly known as Kakkanadan and was a craze among the Kerala youth between 1960 and 1970. His works are the landmarks in the history of literary modernism in Malayalam Literature.

He received many awards for his outstanding works like Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Padmaprabha Literary Award, and Muttathu Varkey Award, etc.

Early Life

The pride of Malayalam literature– George Varghese Kakkanadan is popularly known as ‘Kakkanadan’ born on 23rd April 1935 in Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. He was born as the second son of evangelist George Kakkanadan and Rosamma. His father was active in church activities.

George Varghese Kakkanadan spent most of the time from his childhood in Kollam and Kottarakkara. ‘Kakkanadan’ was his family name but among people, he was known by that name only.

Education and Career

George Varghese Kakkanadan graduated with B.Sc. Chemistry from Sree Narayana College, Kollam. After his bachelor’s degree, he started working as a school teacher.

In 1957, as an officer, he joined Southern Railway (one of the 18 zones of Indian Railways) in Tamil Nadu after quitting his school teacher job.

In 1961, he moved to Delhi to join The Ministry of Railways, Government of India.

After working at the Ministry of Railways for 7 years, in 1967 George Varghese Kakkanadan went to Germany to continue research in the literature on a scholarship. At that time he rose as one of the most promising writers in Malayalam literature.

Unfortunately, he discontinued the research and returned to Kerala, and became a full-time writer.

Between 1971 and 1973, George Varghese Kakkanadan worked as an editorial member in the ‘Malayalanadu’- a famous Malayalam weekly published from Kollam. S. Krishnan Nair was the founder and chief editor of the magazine, it promoted modern Malayalam literature and supported new young writers.

Family

George Varghese Kakkanadan has 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Rajan Kakkanadan, Thampi Kakkanadan, G. Ignatius Kakkanadan, Ammini, and Annie are his brothers and sisters. The novel ‘Kalapathinte Orma’ was written by his younger brother Thampi Kakkanadan.

His sister Ammini is the wife of P. A. Solomon– A former Member of Parliament.

In 1965 he married Ammini and they have 3 children- Rishi Kakkanadan, Rajan Kakkanadan, and Radha Kakkanadan.

The Novelist and Writer

George Varghese Kakkanadan’s works were sensitive and unique. He started writing much before joining the Indian Railways. He wrote the novel ‘Vasoori’ and ‘Sakshi’ at that time. His novels made a bigger impact on young generation readers.

A rising short story writer in 1960 George Varghese Kakkanadan’s early works dominated and created a new modern trend in the Malayalam literature. He became one of the promising writers in Malayalam. Often people call him the founder of modernism in Malayalam literature.

He made a mark in Malayalam fiction with the exploration of deeper realities of life.

With a huge fan following and admirers, a simple and down to earth personality George Varghese Kakkanadan had strong opinions and used to express his views openly that was highly appreciated by readers. 

George Varghese Kakkanadan’s lots of works are considered as landmarks in the history of literary modernism in Malayalam. Both in life and literature, he was a rebel, his rebellious thought process one can see from the selection of themes, use of language, and careful crafting of the philosophy in the writing.

A naturally gifted writer and novelist George Varghese Kakkanadan is the pride of Malayalam Literature, he changed the face of Malayalam literature with his magical style of writing and vision.

With his intellect and extraordinary writing skills, he changed the rules of writing fiction. Compared to other writers whatever subjects he handled, he wrote with a feeling.

Literary Work

George Varghese Kakkanadan wrote numerous novels and hundreds of short stories. A few films are also made based on his novels. He published his first work short-story ‘Kachavadam’ in 1963.

(a) Novels

Sakshi in 1967, Ezham Mudra and Vasoori in 1968, Ushnamekhala in 1969, Kozhi and Parankimala in 1971, Ajnathayude Thaazhvara in 1972, Innaleyude Nizhal and Aarudeyo Oru Nagaram in 1974, Adiyaravu and Thulavarsham in 1975.

Abhimanyu and Theerangalil Udayam in 1976, Adarnnu Veezhunna Nakshatrangal in 1978, Mattoru Mukham and Verukal Illathavan in 1980, Orotha in 1982, Ee Naaykkalute Lokam in 1983, Kochappu Chila Ormakkurippukal in 1985.

Barsaathi in 1986, Oru Viddiyude Charithram in 1987, Nayattu, Chumar Chitrangal, Kadalinte Moham, and Kaveriyude Vili in 1988, Ivide Ee Theerathu in 1990, Andrews Enna Paapi, (3 Novelettes) in 1991.

And other novels like Ente Nagaram Oru Samarakatha, Kambolam, Kakkanadante Lakhu Novelukal, Pralayathinu Sesham, Randam Piravi, Hill Station, Ammakku Swantham, Mazha Nizhal Pradesam.

(b) Short Stories

Kannadi Veedu in 1966, Pathinezhu in 1967, Yuddhaavasaanam in 1969, Purathekkulla Vazhi in 1970, Aswathamaavinte Chiri in 1979, Sreechakram in 1981, Kakkanadante Kathakal in 1984.

Alwar Thirunagarile Pannikal, Uchayillaatha Oru Divasam and Mazhayude Jwalakal in 1989, Arulappadu in 1993 and Jaappaana Pukayila in 2005, Baltimorile Amma, Yusuf Saraile Charakku Vyapari, Kaalappazhakkam etc.

(c) Travelogues

Kutajadriyude Sangeetam in 1989, Kulir, Venal, Mazha in 1992

(d) Films on Novels

A Malayalam film ‘Unnikrishnante Aadyathe Christmas’ in 1988 based on a George Varghese Kakkanadan’s short story ‘Chithalukal’ directed by Kamal.

Parankimala’ a Malayalam in 2014 directed by Sennan Pallassery. This film is based on George Varghese Kakkanadan’s novel ‘Parankimala’. It was the remake of the Malayalam film ‘‘Parankimala’ which was released in 1981 directed by Bharathan.

Awards and Honours

There are so many accolades and recognitions won by George Varghese Kakkanadan for his contribution to the Malayalam literature.

They include Malayalanadu Award in 1970 for ‘Yuddhaavasaanam’, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1980 for his story ‘Aswathamavinte Chiri, Viswadeepam Award in 1990 for ‘Alwar Thirunagarile Pannikal’.

His novel ‘Orotha’ won Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1984.

Other awards include Muttathu Varkey Award in 1996, Padmaprabha Literary Award in 2001, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Overall Contributions (Lifetime Achievement) in 2003, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Short stories ‘Jappana Pukayila’.

Last Day

An ace wordsmith, an influential writer, and one of the most famous novelists of Malayalam language George Varghese Kakkanadan died on 19th October 2011 at the age of 76 at Bishop Benziger Hospital, Kollam in Kerala.

Govt. of Kerala had given full state honors during his funeral.

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