Sarah Joseph (author)

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Sarah Joseph
Sarah Joseph
Sarah Joseph
OccupationWriter, feminist
GenreNovel, short story, essay
Literary movementFeminist literature
Notable worksAalahayude Penmakkal, Puthuramayanam, Oduvilathe Suryakanthi

Sarah Joseph (born 1946) is a novelist and short story writer in Malayalam. She won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for her novel Aalahayude Penmakkal (Daughters of God the Father).[1] She also received the Vayalar Award for the same novel.[2] Sarah has been at the forefront of the feminist movement in Kerala and is the founder of Manushi (organisation of thinking women).[1][3] She and Madhavikutty are considered among the leading women writers in Malayalam.[4] She joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2014 and contested the 2014 parliament elections from Thrissur.

Early and personal life[edit]

Sarah Joseph was born into a conservative Christian family at Kuriachira in Thrissur city in 1946 to Louis and Kochumariam.[1][4] She was married at the age of 15 when she was in class IX. She attended the teacher's training course and began her professional career as a school teacher. Later, she received her B.A. and M.A. in Malayalam as a private candidate and joined the collegiate service in Kerala. She served as a Professor of Malayalam at Sanskrit College, Pattambi. She has since retired from government service and lives at Mulamkunnathukavu in Thrissur district. She has two daughters. Geetha Joseph and Sangeetha Srinivasan.

Sarah Joseph is also a well-known social activist and was at the forefront of several agitations in Kerala. She was an ardent left-sympathiser[5] but joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014[6] and was fielded by the party as a candidate from the Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 parliament elections, but lost to C. N. Jayadevan of Communist Party of India.[7]

Literary career[edit]

Sarah Joseph's literary career began very early, when she was in high school. Many of her poems appeared in Malayalam weeklies. She was also good at reciting her poems at poets' meets which was much appreciated by poets like Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon and Edasseri Govindan Nair.[1] After a short period of uncertainty she took to fiction and began writing short stories. Her collection of short stories Paapathara is considered a milestone in feminist writing in Malayalam.[3]

She has published a trilogy of novels which includes Aalahayude Penmakkal, Mattathi, and Othappu. Her works are essentially liberalistic and convey the sentiments of various oppressed groups.[8] The novel Othappu is about a woman's yearning for a true understanding of spirituality and her own sexuality.[9] Othappu has been translated into English by Valson Thampu under the title "Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side".[10][11] Her novel Aalahayude Penmakkal won her three major awards – the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Vayalar Award.[2] In 2011, Sarah won the Muttathu Varkey Award for her collection of short stories titled Papathara.[12] On 10 October 2015, she returned the Sahitya Akademi Award based on her political perception that there is "fear and lack of freedom under the present government."[13]

She has won much critical acclaim for her Ramayana Kathakal, a subversive reading of the Ramayana. An English translation of this work has been published by the Oxford University Press.[14][15][16]

She is also the recipient of the very first O.V. Vijayan Sahitya Puraskaram. In 2012 she won the Padmaprabha Literary Award.[17]

Amnesty International[edit]

In 2016, she supported Amnesty international in the controversy against ABVP.[18]

Selected works[edit]

Short stories
  • Manassile Thee Matram (1973)
  • Kadinte Sangeetham (1975, anthology of short stories)
  • Paapathara
  • Oduvilathe Suryakanthi
  • Nilavu Nirayunnu
  • Puthuramayanam
  • Kaadithu Kandaayo Kaanthaa
  • Nanmathinmakalude Vriksham (anthology of short stories)


  1. ^ a b c d Panjikaran, Mariamma. "Sarah Joseph – A writer of women, for women" (PDF). Government of Kerala. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Sarah Joseph bags Vayalar Award". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 10 October 2004. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Women's Writing – Sarah Joseph". Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b D. Babu Paul (19 July 2009). "Cross Examination". Indian Express. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Kerala opens up to AAP, writer-activist Sara Joseph to join Arvind Kejriwal". India Today. 11 January 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Sara Joseph joins AAP". The Hindu. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  7. ^ "AAP fields author Sara Joseph against Chacko". The Hindu. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Novel and Short Story to the Present Day". Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Othappu : The Scent of the Other Side". Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Wages of freedom". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 6 September 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Veiled passions: 'Othappu' by Sarah Joseph and 'Amen' by Sister Jesme". Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  12. ^ "Sarah Joseph wins Muttathu Varkey Award". Malayala Manorama. 28 April 2011. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Another Writer Returns Award, Says, 'Not The Free India I Lived In'".
  14. ^ "Retelling the Ramayana". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 21 August 2005. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  15. ^ Smith, Bonnie G. (2008). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History: Kaffka. 3. Oxford University Press. p. 570. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  16. ^ "Bridging cultures". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 14 March 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Padmaprabha award for Sara Joseph". Kerala Women. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  18. ^ Aravind. "Anti National slogans at Amnesty international meet".
  19. ^ K. Santhosh (4 July 2011). "Water of love seeps through". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 July 2011.