Renowned Malayalam writer Benyamin recently received the Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Literary Award 2021 for his literary work Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal published in Malayalam by DC Books. He will be presented with the 45th Vayalar award on 27 October 2021 at Nishagandhi Auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram. The prestigious accolade includes a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh, a felicitation letter by Vayalar Memorial Trust office, and a bronze sculpture chiseled by noted Indian carver Kanayi Kunhiraman.
Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal is a political satire set around an ordinary village Manthalir which observes the impact of religion and politics on the culture of Manthalir over a period spanning two decades. The Vayalar award jury this year consisted of writers Dr George Onakkoor, Dr C Unnikrishnan and KR Meena.
Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi reported that Benyamin feels blessed and happy to have received the Vayalar award for the book that contains the essence of his soul. He added that 20 Communist Varshangal is a book that is close to his heart because it is a work that was created by mapping the political scenario which he witnessed while growing up and his perspective towards the ideologies in the Travancore region at the time.
The Vayalar Award, instituted in 1977, honors the celebrated Indian poet and lyricist Vayalar Ramavarma (1928 – 1975). The award will be presented to Benyamin on 27 October, which also happens to be Vayalar’s death anniversary.
Previous winners of the prestigious Vayalar Award include MT Vasudevan Nair (1985), OV Vijayan (1991), M Mukundan (2003), and KR Meera (2014), KV Mohan Kumar (2018), V J James (2019), and Ezhacherry Ramachandran (2020) among other notable writers.
Benyamin – a serial award-winning author
Benyamin’s literary accomplishments include 18 books comprising novels, short story collections, travelogues, and memoirs in Malayalam. The English translation of his book Mullappooniramulla Pakalukal by Shahnaz Habib called Jasmine Days won the inaugural JCB Prize for literature in 2018. It describes the tale of a woman’s move to a middle eastern city amidst the Jasmine revolution. The work received the Crossword Book Award in 2019 and was long-listed for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award.
Benyamin’s most popular work till date Aadujeevitham (Goat Days), the hard-hitting true story of a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia, has crossed over a hundred Malayalam reprints. The English translation by Dr Joseph Koyippally, Goat Days not only made it to the lists for Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013 but also won the Kerala Literary Academy Award in 2009. The novel is said to have been originally penned for Malayalam magazine Mathrubhumi.
Aadujeevitham has been translated into numerous languages including Nepali, Odia, Tamil, Kannada, Arabic, and Thai. Goat Days, as the English translation is titled, enjoys the rare distinction of being used as a textbook in schools and universities including Bharathiar University, Kerala University, Pondicherry University, Calicut University, and the Kerala state 10th standard school syllabus.
Benyamin’s short story collection Euthanasia won the first Abu Dhabi Malayalam Samajam prize. The celebrated Malayalam author has also won the Muttathu Varkey Award 2019 and Padmaprabha Literary Award 2015 for his immense contribution to Malayalam literature. The Atlas Kairali Story Award, Abu Dhabi Sakthi Award, and Norka Roots Pravasi Literary Prize are other feathers in Benyamin’s cap.