Karur Neelakanta Pillai

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Karoor Neelakanta Pillai
Born(1898-02-22)February 22, 1898
Died30 September 1975(1975-09-30) (aged 77)
Pen nameKaroor
Nationality India
GenreShort story, Novel
Notable awards1969 Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story

Karoor Neelakanta Pillai (Malayalam: കാരൂർ നീലകണ്ഠപ്പിള്ള) (1898–1975) was a writer of Malayalam literature and one of the founders of Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham (Writers' Co-operative Society). Some of his works such as Poovan Pazham and Marappavakal are counted by many among the best short stories in Malayalam. He was a recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story in 1969, which he received for his short story, Mothiram.

Life and career[edit]

Karoor Neelakanta Pillai was born on 22 February 22, 1898, in Ettumanoor, in Kottayam district of the south Indian state of Kerala to Kunhiliyamma and Neelakanta Pillai.[1][note 1] His formal education lasted only up to 7th standard though he was known to have been good at studies. He began his career as a school teacher at a local school in Kadappoor but quit his job when he got a government job as a teacher at the local school in Pothanikkad.[2] While on job at various places such as Ettumanoor, Vemballi and Kanakkari, he pursued his studies and passed 9th standard in 1913 as well as the teachers' training examinations.[3]

Pillai became associated with the Adhyapaka Maha Sabha (teachers' union) in 1920 and two years later, he was elected as its secretary.[1] He was involved in the teachers' meeting that discussed strike and though the matter was voted out by the meeting, the government dismissed all teachers who participated in the meeting; Pillai also lost his job. He worked as an assistant to a local ayurvedic physician at Ettumanoor till he was reinstated in his job by the government, with a posting at Namakkuzhi school. After holding the post for a while, he took long leave from job and became the secretary of Kottayam Co-operative Union. Moving to the village of Panmana, he started trading in coir products and it was in 1930, he married Gomathy Amma. When the coir industry went through a lean period during the World War II, he quit trading and returned to teaching, this time at the local school in Thazhava village.[1]

It was during this time, Pillai, along with M. P. Paul, worked towards forming a co-operative for writers and in 1945, with a capital of 120,[4] they registered the Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham (SPCS - Writers' Cooperative Society) with Paul and Pillai as the president[5] and the secretary of the society, respectively.[6] He held the position of the secretary for two decades and when he relinquished the position in 1965, the society had already made a mark in the publishing sector, with the integration of National Book Stall in 1949.[7]

He died in September 30th,1975, at the age of 77.[1]

Major works[edit]

Pillai, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer and Uroob are considered to be the preeminent storytellers in Malayalam literature.[8][9] His short stories often portray the plight of the middle class in a simple and straightforward manner.[10] Many of his stories were translated into other Indian languages and English. The short story Anakkaran (The Mahout) was translated into English by Santa Ramesvara Rao.[11][12] He wrote many stories for children and his story Anchu Kadalasu was later adapted for a film of the same name.[13] He received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story in 1960 for his short story, Mothiram.[14]

Short stories[edit]

  • Karoor Kathakal Sampoornam (complete works)[15]
  • Marappavakal (The Wooden Dolls)
  • Pathu Kadhakal (Ten Stories)
  • Thiranjedutha Kadhakal (Selected Stories)
  • Rahasyam (The Secret)
  • Ambalapparambil (In the Temple Courtyard)
  • Poovanpazham
  • Orupidimannu (A fist full of earth)
  • Meenkari (The Fisherwoman)[16]
  • Smarakom
  • Thoopukaran (The sweeper)
  • Kochanujathi (The little sister)
  • Astrologer
  • Gruhanayika (Lady of the house)
  • Pothichoru (Selected Stories)



  • Appoopan (Grandfather)

Children's literature[edit]

  • Karoorinte Balakathakal[19]
  • Anchu Kadalasu (5 papers )
  • Enne Rajavakkanam (Make Me the King)[20]
  • Aanakaran (The Mahout)[21]
  • Azhakanum Poovaliyum
  • Olayum Narayavum (The Leaf and the Stylus)
  • Bhruthyan (The Servant)
  • Manmayil


  1. ^ Karoor was the family name of his mother, obtained through matrilineal succession


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography on Kerala Sahitya Akademi portal". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Karoor Neelakanta Pillai". Nairs.com. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  3. ^ "Veethi profile". Veethi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  4. ^ "SPCS - About Us". www.spcsindia.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Remembering a visionary - Times of India". The Times of India. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  6. ^ "JStor profile". Journal of South Asian Literature. 15 (1). 26 January 2019. JSTOR 40872325.
  7. ^ Sahitya Pravarthaka Cooperative Society. Oxford University Press. 1 January 2010. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198606536.001.0001. ISBN 9780198606536. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  8. ^ Michigan State University, Asian Studies Center (1980). Journal of South Asian literature.
  9. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Devraj to Jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 1609–. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  10. ^ Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. 1993.
  11. ^ "Karoor Neelakanda Pillai on Good Reads". www.goodreads.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  12. ^ "A Bibliography of Malayalam literature in English translation". University of Washington Libraries. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Karoorinte Balakathakal on Good Reads". www.goodreads.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  15. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Karoor Kathakal Sampoornam. National Book Stall. p. 1558.
  16. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Meenkari. National Book Stall. p. 72.
  17. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Hari. Poorna Publications. ISBN 978-8130001531.
  18. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai (1972). Panjiyum Thuniyum. Poorna Publications. ISBN 9788130006680.
  19. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Karoorinte Balakathakal. National Book Stall.
  20. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Enne Rajavakkanam. National Book Stall.
  21. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Aanakkaran. National Book Stall.

External links[edit]