Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1908-1994) is one of the makers of modern Indian literature. Basheer recast the idiom and narrative modes of Malayalam fiction. His advent in Malayalam literature marks both the rise of social realism and the entry of colloquial language into fiction. It is a strange co-incidence that the name "Basheer" signifies 'harbinger' in Arabic, for Basheer assumed the role of a harbinger of modemity in his culture from the earliest days of his literary career. His life was as eventful as his fiction. He was imprisoned twice during the Freedom Struggle, for participating in the Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and for alleged acts of 'terrorism' against the Govt. of Thiruvithamkoor in 1941. Some of his earlier works were banned by the Government of Thiruvithamkoor. Basheer travelled the length and breadth of the country in his wanderings doing a variety of jobs - from washing dishes in a restaurant to giving tuitions to college students - to keep himself afloat and associating himself with Hindu and Muslim ascetics. The borderline between life and art is often erased in his fiction. The typical Basheerian style and humour have no parallels in Malayalam literature.
M N Karasseri is a writer, translator and civil rights activist who has authored more than forty books on a variety of subjects like language, literature, translation and religion. His works include Makkayilekkulla Pasha (The Road to Mecca), Thiruvarul (Holy Words), Mararude Kurukshetram (Marar's Kurukshetra), Basheerinte Poonkavanam (Basheer's Garden), Vargeeyathakkethire Oru Pusthakam (A Book Against Communalism), Chekanoorinte Raktham (Chekanur's Blood), Thelimalayalam (Lucid Malayalam) and Ummamarkkoru Sankadaharaji (A Petition for Muslim Women). Karasseri retired as Professor of Malayalam from University of Calicut.
K M Sherrif writes in Malayalam and English and translates among Malayalam, English, Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil. His published works include Kunhupathumma’s Tryst with Destiny, the first study in English of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer's fiction and Ekalavyas with Thumbs. the first selection of Gujarati Dalit writing in English translation. His translations into English include Basheer's stories Vishwavikhyadamaya Mookku, Mucheettukalikkarante Makal and Manthracharadu. Sherrif teaches English at the University of Calicut.
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