N. S. Madhavan

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എന്‍.എസ് മാധവന്‍.jpg
Born9 September 1948
Ernakulam, Ernakulam District, Kerala State
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, columnist
Alma materMaharaja's College, Ernakulam
GenreNovel, short story, essays
SubjectSocial aspects
Notable works
  • Higuita
  • Thiruth
  • Chulaimedile Shavangal
  • Pancha Kanyakakal
  • Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal
Notable awards
SpouseSheela Reddy
ChildrenMeenakshi Reddy Madhavan

N. S. Madhavan (born 9 September 1948) is an Indian writer of Malayalam literature. Known for his novel, Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal (Litanies of the Dutch Battery) and a host of short stories such as Higuita, Thiruthu, Chulaimedile Shavangal and Vanmarangal Veezhumpol, Madhavan also writes football columns and travel articles. He is a distinguished fellow of Kerala Sahitya Akademi and a recipient of several major awards including Odakkuzhal Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Novel, Muttathu Varkey Award, Mathrubhumi Literary Award and Crossword Book Award.


N. S. Madhavan, born on September 9, 1948 in the port city of Cochin did his school education at Sree Rama Varma High School and graduated in economics from Maharaja's College, Ernakulam.[1] His post-graduate studies were at the Department of Economics, University of Kerala. During this period he began writing, and in 1970 won the top prize for his first published short story 'Shishu', in a contest organised by the Malayalam literary magazine Mathrubhumi.[2] He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1975 and started his administrative career as a member of the Bihar cadre. After serving in Bihar in various capacities, he returned to his home state in 1988.[3]

Madhavan is married to Sheela Reddy, a book editor of Outlook, an English magazine published in New Delhi. Their daughter, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is a well-known blogger and the author of works such as You Are Here, Confessions of a Listmaniac and Cold Feet.[4][5]

Writing career[edit]


N.S Madhavan

In the 1980s, Madhavan went through a decade-long period of writer's block, until the release of his story 'Higuita' in 1990. In this work, Madhavan models his protagonist, Father Geevarghese, on René Higuita, the 1990 FIFA World Cup goalkeeper for Colombia and hiss unconventional playing style whereby he would often abandon his goal and try to score goals, occupies the priest's imagination.[6] Likewise, he temporarily abandons his cassock and saves a tribal girl Lucie from the clutches of the trafficker Jabbar. The short story was rated among the best Malayalam stories in the last century.[7] It has since been adapted into a play, Higuita: A Goalie’s Anxiety at Penalty Kick, by Sasidharan Naduvil.[8] Thiruthu, based on the Babri Masjid demolition, Chulaimedile Shavangal (Corpses of Chulaimed), Vanmarangal Veezhumpol (When the Big Trees Fall), Paryaya Kathakal (Synonymous Stories), Nilavili (The Cry), Muyal Vetta (Hare Hunt) and Nalam Lokam (The Fourth World) are some of his other notable short stories.[9] His stories are known to represent the uncertainties, ambiguities and tragedies of the modern world.[10]


After thirty-three years as a writer, Madhavan published his debut novel in 2003 as Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal.[3] The novel is about the life on an imaginary island in the Kochi backwaters,[11] named after a 17th-century battery (bathery in Malayalam) of five cannons installed on its promontory by the Dutch (Lanthans in Malayalam).[12] Jessica, the young narrator of the story, is the scion of a family of carpenters with a long tradition of boat building. Her remniscences start from the days when she was inside her pregnant mother's womb. The novel presents an intimate picture of life of the Latin Christians of the Kerala coast, descendants of poor, low-caste Hindus who were converted to Christianity by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century.[13] The first edition of the novel was sold out in a month.[14]

The novel is set between 1951 and 1967, the first sixteen years of Jessica life, but draws upon history going back to the time of Vasco Da Gama.[13] She was born at a time when people used to run away from cow-pox vaccinators as well as the period when Kerala embraced communism, which the novelist calls the watermelon years – an allusion to the verdant green-canopied Kerala with its hidden red watermelons. There are captivating descriptions of Latin catholic residents of the Dutch Battery preparing themselves for months prior to the staging of Karalman Charitham a Chavittu Nadakam or an operatic play about Charlemagne, originally written in Tamil and pidgin Latin by Chinnathambi Annavi in the 16th century.[15][16] Set against the background of the city of Madhavan's birth, Kochi, the Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal is a roller coaster ride through micro histories, the nascent days of a newly independent country, the growth and decline of ideas, and the randomness of events affecting human lives. Well-known Malayalam novelist M. Mukundan made the following assessment after reviewing the novel, "N.S. Madhavan has rejuvenated Malayalam fiction."[17] He summarises the novel thus: "[The book] is all about history and imagination—the protogonists of new fiction that is in vogue."[17] Mukundan added, "The novel is heavily populated with communists, priests, carpenters, cooks, boatmen, librarians, school teachers, even tailors. At times you will come across history makers from faraway Russia – Joseph Stalin, Imre Nagy, Nikita Khrushchev..."[17]

Other works[edit]

In 2006, Madhavan published has written two plays, Rayum Mayum and Arbhudhavaidyan, published together as a book, Randu Natakangal, in 2006.[18] His novel Lanthanbatheriyile Luthiniyakal was translated into English by Rajesh Rajamohan under the title Litanies of Dutch Battery and published in October 2010 by Penguin Books. The work was the winner of the 2010 Crossword Book Award (Indian language translations)[19] and featured in the Man Asian Literary Prize long list[2] and the 2011 The Hindu Literary Prize short list.[20] Kaya Taran, the 2004 Hindi movie by Sashi Kumar, is based on When Big Trees Fall, a short story by Madhavan about the homicidal attacks on the Sikhs that followed the Assassination of Indira Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister.[3][21] He also edited one book, Malayala Kathakal, composed of 60 short stories by various writers.[22]


Madhavan, who topped the field in a literary competition conducted by Mathrubhumi in 1970 for his short story, Shishu, received the Padmarajan Award for his work, Thiruthu in 1993[23] and a year later, he received the 1994 Odakkuzhal Award for Higuita.[24] Higuita was selected for another award in 1995, the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story;[25] he would receive another award from Kerala Sahitya Akademi in 2004, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Novel for Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal.[26] The novel was included in the long list for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize, the prize eventually going to the Chinese novel, Wolf Totem.[2] He received one more awarrd for Higuita, the Muttathu Varkey Award in 2009[27] followed by the Padmaprabha Literary Award, the same year.[28] The English translation of his novel, Litanies of Dutch Battery, was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize in 2011.[20] Kerala Sahitya Akademi honoured him with fellowship in 2013.[29][30] He received the Padmaprabha Literary Prize in 2015[31] and two awards in 2018, the Mathrubhumi Literary Award[32][33] and the Literary Award of the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam.[9]



  • Madhavan, N. S. (2003). Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal. [Kottayam]: DC Books. ISBN 8126406178. OCLC 54073729.

Short stories[edit]




Translations to other languages[edit]


  1. ^ "Author Details". 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  2. ^ a b c "The 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize - Longlist Announced" (PDF). Man Asian Literary Prize. 2007. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  3. ^ a b c "N S Madhavan - Author of 'When Big Trees Fall'". kayataran.com. 2019-01-31. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  4. ^ "Girls of the Mahabharata". www.thenewsminute.com. January 19, 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  5. ^ Kumari, Barkha; Jan 6, Bangalore Mirror Bureau; 2019; Ist, 06:00. "From chick-lit to epics and murder mystery, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is experimenting with genres and her heroines". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  6. ^ "'Higuita' judge stages sit-in, corporation clears market garbage - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  7. ^ "The world is round, and so is a football". dna. 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  8. ^ Ramanath, Renu (2019-01-17). "11th edition of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala to holding the stage". The Hindu. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  9. ^ a b "Bahrain Keraleeya Sahitya Puraskaram". Madhyamam. December 12, 2018. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  10. ^ "എഴുത്തുമുറിയിലെ ഇടിമുഴക്കങ്ങള്‍; എന്‍ എസ് മാധവന്‍റെ പഞ്ചകന്യകകള്‍-ഒരു വായന". Azhimukham (in Malayalam). 2014-12-28. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  11. ^ "An illustrative journey". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  12. ^ "Lanthan Bathery comes alive as you explore Kochi islands". OnManorama. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  13. ^ a b Chowdhury, Aloke Roy. Secrets of the land with 5 cannon.
  14. ^ "Sex worker's memoirs turns out to be bestseller in Kerala". Gulf Today. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  15. ^ Bureau, Our. "Chinnathambi Annavi statue unveiled". @businessline. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  16. ^ "Attired in costumes, the legend is born again". The Hindu. 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  17. ^ a b c M. Mukundan Epic Imagination: Review of Lanthanbatheriyile Luthinayakal, The Little Magazine, New Delhi: Volume IV, Issue 4 2003
  18. ^ N. S .Madhavan (2006-09-07). "Randu nadakangal" (in Malayalam). DC Books. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  19. ^ "Crossword Book Awards - Indian literary awards". Encyclopedia Britannica. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  20. ^ a b Reporter, Staff (2011-09-25). "Shortlisted works for 2011 prize". The Hindu. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  21. ^ "Big trees, little shoots". www.thehindu.com. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  22. ^ N.S Madhavan (editor) (2017). Malayala Kadha- 60 Kadhakal. DC Books. OCLC 1015264445. Retrieved 2019-02-01.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "Winners of Padmarajan Award". www.keralaculture.org. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  24. ^ "Winners of Odakkuzhal Award". www.keralaculture.org. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  25. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story". Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  26. ^ "N S Madhavan- Speaker in Kerala literature Festival KLF –2019". keralaliteraturefestival.com. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  27. ^ "Muttathu Varkey Award presented". The Hindu. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  28. ^ "Padmaprabha Literary Award - Padma Prabha Puraskaram". www.keralaculture.org. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  29. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Fellowship" (PDF). Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 2014. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  30. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Fellowship recipients". www.keralaculture.org. 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  31. ^ "Padmaprabha prize for N.S. Madhavan". The Hindu. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  32. ^ "NS Madhavan presented with Mathrubhumi Literary Award". Mathrubhumi. January 18, 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  33. ^ "Mathrubhumi Literary Award for N S Madhavan". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 2019-02-01.

Further reading[edit]

  • N. S. Madhavan. "Afterword". Little Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  • N. S. Madhavan. "The Cry". Little Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  • N. S. Madhavan. "Kanakam". Little Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  • N. S. Madhavan. "Amma". Little Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-01.

External links[edit]