Kavery Nambisan

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Kavery Nambisan
BornPalangala, Kodagu district, India
Pen nameKavery Bhatt
LanguageEnglish, Kodava
Alma materSt. John's Medical College, Bangalore
Notable worksThe Story that Must Not Be Told
SpouseVijay Nambisan[1]

Kavery Nambisan is a novelist from India. She is also a surgeon who practices in rural India. Her career in medicine has been a strong influence in her fiction.[2]


Kavery Nambisan was born in Palangala village in south Kodagu, India, in a politician's family.[3] Her father, C.M. Poonacha, was at one time a Union railway minister.[4] She spent her early years in Madikeri.[3] She studied medicine in St. John's Medical College, Bangalore from 1965[5] and then studied surgery at the University of Liverpool, England,[1] where she obtained the FRCS qualification.[3] She worked as a surgeon in various parts of rural India[1] before moving to Lonavala to start a free medical centre for migrant labourers.[6]

Nambisan works as surgeon and medical advisor at the Tata Coffee Hospital in Kodagu, Karnataka,[2] and is the Chief Medical Officer for Tata Coffee.[7] She has created several programmes for child immunisation and family planning for the rural communities. She is vocal in her critiques of urban centred health planning.[8]

Nambisan was married to Vijay Nambisan, a journalist and poet.[1] She has a daughter, Chetana, from an earlier marriage to Dr K.R. Bhatt, which lasted eighteen years.[5]

Literary career[edit]

Kavery Nambisan began by writing under her first married name Kavery Bhatt for children's magazines. She wrote stories for the now defunct children's magazine Target. She also contributed to Femina and Eve's Weekly.[1]

Nambisan has authored several novels for adults, each with widely differing themes.[9] Her first book, published under the name Kavery Bhatt, The Truth (almost) About Bharat, is the story of a rebellious young medical student who runs away from medical college, and begins a cross-country road trip on his motorcycle. The book went out of print and was recently re-released.[citation needed] Her second novel, The Scent of Pepper (1996) was set in her birthplace, Kodagu and is a portrait of the life and culture of its people, through the eyes of a family from colonial rule to independence.[9] Mango-coloured Fish (1998) concerns a woman whose marriage has been arranged to a man she does not love.[9] On Wings of Butterflies (2002) is set in the women's movement in independent India and narrates the story of a group of women entering politics.[9] The Hills of Angheri (2005) draws from Nambisan's own experiences as a doctor, tracing a young woman's medical career.[10] Her sixth novel,The Story that Must Not Be Told was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2012,[11] as well as the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008.[6][12] Her seventh and most recent novel, A Town Like Ours (2014) is an account of the lives of several people, narrated by a sex worker living in a small town, and engages with themes of identity and industrialisation.[13]

Nambisan's story Dr Sad and the Power Lunch was joint runner-up in the third Outlook-Picador non-fiction contest in 2003.[14] She has also contributed fiction to Indian Literature, the journal published by the Sahitya Akademi (India's National Academy of Letters).[15]

She has also contributed some works of criticism, including a piece on 'New Issues in Fiction'[16] to the journal Indian Literature.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Literary Awards and Recognition[edit]

Kavery Nambisan was a Coorg Person of the Year in 2005.[17]

Medical and Professional Awards and Recognition[edit]

List of Publications[edit]

  • Once Upon a Forest, Children's Book Trust, India, 1986. (As Kavery Bhatt.)
  • Kitty Kite, Children's Book Trust, India, 1987. (As Kavery Bhatt.)
  • The Truth (almost) About Bharat, Penguin India, 1991. (As Kavery Bhatt.)
  • The Scent of Pepper, Penguin India, 1996.
  • Mango-coloured fish, Penguin India, 1998.
  • On Wings of Butterflies, Penguin India, 2002.
  • The Hills of Angheri, Penguin, 2005.
  • The Story that Must Not Be Told, Penguin, 2010.
  • A Town Like Ours, Aleph Book Company, 2014.


  1. ^ a b c d e Nandini Krishnan (4 November 2013). "The doctor is in the house". Fountain Ink. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Judges for the Hindu Prize 2013". The Hindu. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "A surgeon and a writer". Deccan Herald. 3 January 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  4. ^ Vijay Nair (May – June 2011). "Chatting with Kavery Nambisan". Reading Hour. 1 (3).
  5. ^ a b Carol D'Souza (17 August 2005). "Well Known Author and Rural Surgeon: Kavery Nambisan". Johnite. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b Sonya Dutta Choudhury (9 November 2008). "Quiet Activism". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Cyrus Mistry wants more women at leadership roles in Tata group". Economic Times. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  8. ^ Kavery Nambisan (20 February 2005). "Magazine : Saving lives ... at what cost?". The Hindu.
  9. ^ a b c d Narayan, Shyamala A. (2005). Nambisan, Kavery (1949-), Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, Second Edition. London: Routledge.
  10. ^ Pai, Sanjay A. (1 January 2006). "Review of The Hills Of Angheri". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 332 (7538): 429–429. JSTOR 25456186.
  11. ^ Shrabonti Bagchi (3 November 2011). "Home-turf stories bring laurels to B'lore writers". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Kavery Nambisan". Penguin India. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  13. ^ "A Town Like Ours: Story of a small town as seen by a sex worker". hindustantimes.com/. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Outlook-Picador Non-Fiction Contest 2003: Dr Sad and the Power Lunch". Outlook. 3 March 2004. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  15. ^ Nambisan, Kavery (1 January 2005). "The Ordinary Life of Srinivasalu". Indian Literature. 49 (4 (228)): 183–189. JSTOR 23340859.
  16. ^ Nambisan, Kavery (1 January 2005). "New Issues in Fiction". Indian Literature. 49 (4 (228)): 41–44. JSTOR 23340770.
  17. ^ Jeevan Chinnappa (6 January 2012). "P.M. Belliappa is 'Coorg Person of the Year 2011'". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 November 2013.