The Clan Deity

Sreejith Varma


Narayan (b. 1939) is a tribal fiction writer from Kerala, India. His debut novel, Kocharethi, which depicted the lives of two generations of a family of the Malayarayar tribe, was published to much critical acclaim in 1998 and won the prestigious Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for the year 1999. The novel’s English translation titled, Kocharethi: The Araya Woman was published in 2011. Besides Kocharethi, Narayan has published seven other novels and five short story collections. Narayan’s Malayalam short story, “Kula Devata” translated here as, “The Clan Deity” offers a rare glimpse of the tribal religion and the coming into being of the cult of goddess worship among them. The tribals depicted in “The Clan deity” do not seem to be the vagrant/nomadic type; they are a settled people that engage chiefly in cultivation and possibly livestock rearing. The short story, which is symptomatic of the thematic preoccupations of Narayan in general, powerfully exposes how the ingrained prejudices about tribals as being primitive, barbaric, and with no legitimate claims for land-ownership, lead to biased and revisionist historiographies.


Narayan, tribal, Malayalam short story, translation

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