It’s that time of the year where we reminisce about the best and the worst of the year gone by. Keeping up with our tradition, we are compiling the best and worst of the year gone by. Here is the R.T. year-ender list of the best reads of 2021. (The post will be in two parts, and this list is not in any particular order)
1. Kadalinte Manam (P.F.Mathews, DC Books):
‘Kadalinte Manam’ is the fourth Novel (and perhaps the ‘lightest one’) from the master storyteller, P.F.Mathews. ‘Kadalinte..’ which tells the story of a middle-aged Government employee named Sachidanandhan and his muse Safiya, is also incidentally the first Novel to hit the bookstores after the writer won the coveted Kerala Sahithya Academy Award through Adiyalapretham (Green Books).
Populated with tangible yet believable characters like Maya, Safiya, Santhosh Babu, Kariya Sir, Bhaskara Menon, ‘Kadalinte Manam delves with strong themes like sexual frustration, mid-life crisis, fake morality, corruption, love, longing, and helplessness. Though the writer has painted his characters with broad strokes of grey, at no point in time does he take a moral stand or make them feel apologetic for their actions as each one of them is nothing but a victim of their circumstances. Tremendous work of literature indeed!
2. Coma (Anver Abdulla, Deecee Upmarket Fiction):
Anver Abdulla is one of those rare writers who could successfully create a bonafide Malayali detective in Perumal when crime thrillers weren’t such a fad in Malayalam. Through Coma (not to be mistaken with the Novel of the same time by Robin Cook, which came out sometime in the 1970 s), he introduces a new detective in Jibrieel., an anarchist detective who is disciplinarily self-developed, artistically trained, technically creative, and uniquely humane!
The story is about a high-flying lawyer named Paul who slips into a coma after handling a sensational case. Though the Novel is a tad long at 260+ pages or so, with intelligent plotting, exciting twists and turns, and a logical climax, Coma succeeds in being a page-turner.
3. Mudritha (Jisa Jose, Mathrubhumi Books):
Jisa Jose’s Mudritha starts like an investigative thriller and soon metamorphoses into something entirely different. The story of a tour operator named Anirudhan and the ten women he encounters as part of his job, Mudritha, is a deliciously warm novel on female bonding and aspirations. Perhaps, after Anitha Nair’s ‘Ladies Coupe,’ Mudritha is undoubtedly one of the most heartwarming take-ups on women’s lives in contemporary India. After reading the blurb, I picked up this one, mistaking it to be a murder mystery but was pleasantly surprised to figure out that there was much more to it.
A delicious read indeed!
4. New Comer (Kiego Higashino, Abacus):
Kiego Higashino is one of the most respected detective novelists of the decade. His books have not only sold millions of copies worldwide but have also got onscreen adaptations in multiple languages. Newcomer is an intricately plotted, absorbing mystery about a forty-something divorcee found dead in a Tokyo apartment.
Detective Kyochiro Kaga, who appeared in Higashino’s earlier work,’ Malice’ is the investigator here who tries to unravel the secrets behind a complicated life with his calm demeanor and sharp intuitions.A classic detective story with multiple layers narrated in a highly inventive manner; New Comer is not one of those regular run-of-the-mill pulp thrillers which hit the bookstore every two weeks or so.
Newcomer is vintage Higashino. Period!
5. Kappithaante Bharya (Bipin Chandran, Mathrubhumi Books):
At a time when Malayalam Popular fiction was getting overdosed with serial killers and psychopaths, Bipin Chandran’s ‘Kappithaan’ came as a breath of fresh air. In this hilarious, cute little Novel, Bipin packs in as much nostalgia and references as the reader is swept into the world of Rosily Aunty, Captain, Annieyamma, and Thomassukutty. The book is as much about them as it is about the world they live in.
An absolute gem of a Novel, this one should be devoured for its lightheartedness, nostalgia, and humor!