12 Best Malayalam Novels You Must Read

Are you looking for the best Malayalam novels? Then check out this blog.

Malayalam literature, with its deep roots in the vibrant state of Kerala in southern India, boasts a treasure trove of captivating stories, profound poetry, and thought-provoking works.

This article will examine the must-read Malayalam books that have captivated readers with their compelling plots, vivid details, and insightful viewpoints.

From timeless classics by renowned authors like Vaikom Muhammad Basheer and Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai to contemporary masterpieces by Jnanpith Award winners like MT Vasudevan Nair, these books offer a glimpse into the vibrant culture, history, and emotions of Kerala.

Let’s take a look at the Best novels in Malayalam to read. 

1. Randamoozham

Randamoozham, written by the legendary M. T. Vasudevan Nair, is a magnum opus in Malayalam literature. 

It is a 1984 mythological drama novel. Translated as “The Second Turn” this novel offers a captivating retelling of the Indian epic, Mahabharata, from the perspective of Bhima, the mighty Pandava warrior.

M. T. Vasudevan Nair’s exquisite prose brings the characters to life, exploring their complex emotions, dilemmas, and personal journeys. 

Through vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to detail, he presents a fresh interpretation of the epic, shedding light on unexplored dimensions and questioning established narratives. 

Randamoozham is a literary masterpiece that transcends boundaries, resonating with readers across languages and cultures, making it a must-read for any lover of great literature. 

The work won the Vayalar Award for the best literary work in Malayalam in 1985. This is one of the most famous Malayalam novels.

More Details:

  • Author: M. T. Vasudevan Nair
  • Year of publication: December 1984
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.3
  • Pages: 300
  • Genre:Mythology, drama, historical fiction

2. Pathummayude Aadu

Pathummayude Aadu, penned by the iconic Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, is a gem of Malayalam literature. 

Translated as “Pathumma’s Goat,” this novella is a heartwarming and humorous tale that captures the essence of everyday life in a small Kerala village.

This novel tells the story of Pathumma, a poor Muslim woman living in Kerala, and her beloved goat. 

Through Pathumma’s struggles, the novel explores themes of poverty, oppression, and the power of love and resilience in the face of adversity.

Basheer’s distinctive writing style, infused with wit and charm, portrays the struggles and triumphs of the marginalized with empathy and authenticity.

More Details:

  • Author: Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  • Year of publication: April 1959
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Pages: 124 pages
  • Genre: Comic 

3. Aadujeevitham

“Aadujeevitham” by Benyamin is a 2008 Malayalam-language novel. 

In this compelling novel, we are taken on a gripping adventure alongside Najeeb, a young man from Kerala who finds himself ensnared in the unforgiving Saudi Arabian deserts. 

This compelling tale delves into the subjects of one’s sense of self, endurance, and the tenacity of the human soul when confronting overwhelming difficulties.

Benyamin’s writing style is raw and evocative, capturing the harsh realities of Najeeb’s life with vivid descriptions and emotional depth.

His narrative skillfully combines elements of realism and metaphor, creating a powerful and thought-provoking literary experience.

The English translation of the novel is named “Goat Days”. The novel is based on real-life events and is one of the top sellers in Malayalam.

More Details:

  • Author: Benyamin
  • Year of publication: 15 July 2008
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.3
  • Pages: 255
  • Genre:Novel, fiction

4. Khasakkinte Ithihasam

Khasakkinte Ithihasam, penned by O.V. Vijayan was first serialised in 1968 and published as a single edition in 1969. 

This is one of the must read Malayalam books,

It is a compelling novel that takes readers on a thought-provoking journey. 

The story revolves around Ravi, a young teacher from a city, who decides to escape his troubled past and seek solace in the remote village of Khasak.

The book delves into the complexities of human existence and the search for meaning. 

It explores themes of self-discovery, social dynamics, and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy.

With its captivating storytelling and profound insights, Khasakkinte Ithihasam challenges readers to question and reflect upon life’s intricacies, making it a captivating read for teenagers.

More Details:

  • Author: O.V. Vijayan
  • Year of publication: 1969
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.1
  • Pages: 140 pages
  • Genre:Novel (Magic realism)

5. Balyakalasakhi

“Balyakalasakhi” (Childhood Companion) by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer is a poignant novel that follows the life of Majeed, a young Muslim boy, and his love interest, Suhra.

The story unfolds against the backdrop of the pre-independence era, exploring themes of love, friendship, and social disparities. 

Through their innocent childhood friendship and subsequent separation, the story explores themes of love, longing, and societal barriers.

The novel highlights the challenges faced by individuals from marginalized communities.

It delves into the complex dynamics of relationships, dreams, and societal expectations.

This novel was published in 1944 and is considered Basheer’s best work.

More Details:

  • Author: Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  • Year of publication: 1944
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Pages: 96
  • Genre:Romance novel

6. Ente Katha

“Ente Katha” (My Story) by Kamala Suraiyya Das, also known as Madhavikutty, is about Aami (Kamala). 

It unveils the author’s tumultuous life journey. With raw honesty, Das explores her experiences, relationships, and personal struggles. 

The book delves into themes of love, sexuality, gender roles, and societal expectations, challenging conservative norms prevalent at the time. 

Through her powerful and introspective narrative, Das offers a unique perspective on identity, self-expression, and the complexities of being a woman in a conservative society.

The novel was published in 1973. Although Ente Katha was intended to be an autobiography, Das eventually acknowledged that a significant portion of it was fictionalized. 

Surayya took it upon herself to translate her book into English, which she titled My Story. This is one of the most famous Malayalam novels.

More Details:

  • Author: Kamala Surayya (Madhavikutty)
  • Year of publication: 1 February 1973
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.8
  • Pages: 107
  • Genre:Biography, Nonfiction

7. Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil

“Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil” (On the Banks of the Mayyazhi) by M. Mukundan is a renowned Malayalam novel set in the coastal town of Mayyazhi in Kerala.

The novel skillfully portrays the historical and societal context of Mahé (Mayyazhi), a former French colony, with a touch of enchantment.

It has garnered praise for its translations into Tamil, English, and French, receiving acclaim in all versions.

The story revolves around the lives of several families residing in the Mahé enclave.  

The novel delves into the intricacies of romance during the era of French governance in Mahé, offering nuanced insights and captivating details.

More Details:

  • Author: M. Mukundan
  • Year of publication: 1974
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Pages: 304
  • Genre: Fiction

8. Naalukettu

“Naalukettu” by M.T. Vasudevan Nair is a celebrated Malayalam novel that delves into the complexities of family, tradition, and societal changes. 

Set in the early 20th century, the story follows Appunni, a young boy, and his ancestral home, a traditional Naalukettu house. 

Through Appunni’s journey, the novel explores the clash between the old and the new, as the younger generation yearns for modernity while the older generation clings to traditional customs.

The book delves into topics of social hierarchy based on birth, social status, and male dominance. 

It also explores the influence of modernization on traditional family systems.

M.T. Vasudevan Nair’s masterful storytelling and vivid character portrayals bring to life the intricacies of familial relationships and provide a compelling glimpse into the transformation of Kerala society.

“Naalukettu” is a poignant and deeply introspective novel that reflects the social and cultural changes that Kerala underwent during the early 20th century.

More Details:

  • Author: M. T. Vasudevan Nair
  • Year of publication: 1958
  • Goodreads Rating: 4
  • Pages: 204
  • Genre: Fiction

9. Oru Sangeerthanam Pole

One of the best Malayalam books to read, “Oru Sangeerthanam Pole” is a 1993 Malayalam novel written by Perumbadavam Sreedharan. 

The narrative is situated in Saint Petersburg and centers on the happenings encountered by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian literary figure. 

It highlights his romantic relationship with Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, who eventually became his spouse. 

The novel explores Dostoyevsky’s innermost thoughts, revealing his feelings of isolation, vulnerabilities, suffering, and spiritual distress.

Despite facing hardships such as poverty, illness, and failed affairs, the presence of Anna brings him solace. 

The book received several prizes, including the highly acclaimed Vayalar award in 1996.

More Details:

  • Author: Perumbadavam Sreedharan
  • Year of publication: September 1993
  • Goodreads Rating: 4
  • Pages: 223
  • Genre: Novel

10. Aarachar

“Aarachar” is a 2012 Malayalam novel written by K R Meera. 

The novel is set in Bengal and explores the life of Chetna, a young woman born into a family of hangmen. 

Chetna, the main character of the book, is a determined and resilient female who faces challenges in obtaining ownership of her chosen career.

As she navigates her own identity and challenges, Chetna becomes a symbol of death and execution in society.

The story vividly portrays the complexities of power, politics, and gender dynamics through Chetna’s experiences.

Meera’s narrative delves into themes of justice, morality, and the weight of societal expectations. 

The book “Aarachar” is an intriguing and engaging work of fiction that prompts reflection on fundamental aspects of being human and the consequences that come with the decisions we make.

More Details:

  • Author: K. R. Meera
  • Year of publication: 1 November 2012
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Pages: 552
  • Genre: Novel

11. Oru Desathinte Katha

“Oru Desathinte Katha” (A Story from a Land), written in 1971 is a renowned Malayalam novel by S.K. Pottekkatt. 

The story revolves around Sreedharan, a boy who was a resident of Athiranippadam. 

The story depicts the life of the villagers through his eyes and through the other characters. 

The novel is set in British India where the protagonist was born. 

It is a haunting autobiographical novel, detailing some 60 years of history, offering history, nostalgia, plight, dreams, and finally, numbness.

In 1972, the book received the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award and in 1980, it earned the Jnanpith Award. 

The narrative spans approximately 55 years and moves through locations such as Athiranippadam, North India, Africa, and Switzerland.

More Details:

  • Author: S. K. Pottekkatt
  • Year of publication: 1971
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Pages: 566
  • Genre: Fiction

12. Manju

“Manju” is a critically acclaimed Malayalam novel written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair published in 1964.

The novel depicts the life of a schoolteacher with a minimum amount of conversations and characters. 

The story takes place in the hilly terrain of Nainital where the boarding school teacher, Vimala Devi, resides. 

She yearns for her discontent to vanish despite having a family consisting of her father, mother, sister, and brother.

Vimala refrains from spending time with her relatives and prefers to be alone.

The novel’s dominant eco-feminist theme highlights patriarchal domination and exploitation. 

M.T. Vasudevan Nair’s exquisite storytelling and vivid descriptions bring the characters and settings to life, immersing readers in the complexities of human emotions. 

They also portray the challenges faced by individuals who defy societal conventions.

More Details:

  • Author: M. T. Vasudevan Nair
  • Year of publication: 1964
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.9
  • Pages: 95
  • Genre: Fiction


In conclusion, Malayalam literature offers a treasure trove of captivating stories and profound insights. From classic works by renowned authors to contemporary gems, there is something for every reader’s taste. 

These books not only entertain but also shed light on the cultural, social, and historical nuances of Kerala. 

Whether you are a fan of romance, mystery, or social commentary, exploring the best novels in Malayalam will undoubtedly enrich your reading experience and open doors to a vibrant literary world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the Best Malayalam Novels that have been adapted into successful films:

  • Thanmatra is loosely inspired by Padmarajan’s short story Orma.
  • Mathilukal is inspired by Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer’s novel of the same name.
  • Thoovanathumbikal takes inspiration Padmarajan’s novel Udakappola.
  • Chemmeen is inspired by Thakazhy Shivasankaran Pillai’s novel of the same name.
  • Akam is inspired by the novel Yakshi, written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan.

Best Malayalam Novels that are considered classics:

  • “Premalekhanam” by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  • “Randamoozham” by M. T. Vasudevan Nair
  • “Khasakkinte Ithihasam” by O.V. Vijayan
  • “Aatujeevitham” by Benyamin
  • “Naalukettu” by M.T. Vasudevan Nair
  • “Pathummayude Aadu” by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

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