Gopallapuram takes you places you never imagined you could go to. The short vignettes in this wondrous book teach you about humans – the experience through a few characters living in a village, like most villages, unknown to civilization. I had not heard of Gopallapuram, the book before stumbling on to it at the Penguin India website and come to think of it, it is a contemporary classic. I am very glad that Penguin is taking the step to publish translated works and make readers aware of what gems do we have in our trove of Indian Literature.
Gopallapuram is a tough one to write a review of and not because of anything else, but because of the way the stories are layered. The people and their pathos can be felt through the pages of this book. The stories while holding your attention also make you think a lot. For instance, what about the highway robber who murders the pregnant woman for her jewellery? Does he have a family somewhere as well?
Or the fact that a group of people can come together to transform a barren land to a blooming village – I mean who can even think of writing something like this. It is then no wonder that he won the Sahitya Akademi Award as well.
To me Gopallapuram was a revelation. Almost something that was unexpected and hit me from the blue. I love that when books do that you. The ability to take you to lands and times forgotten.
Ki Rajanarayanan has the unique ability to make the reader feel emotive even towards his so-called anti-heroes. There are only shades of grey to his writing, which in effect is brilliant as it gives the reader the opportunity to think and ponder.