Microcosm of the Forest on a Vast Canvas
Annie Kuriachan
VALLI: A NOVEL by Sheela Tomy(Translated from the original Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil) Harper Perennial, 2022, 420 pp., INR 699
September 2023, volume 47, No 9

Heaven, in those Days, was a Forest.

Borrowing this line from Jayasree Kalathil’s excellent English translation of Sheela Tomy’s Malayalam novel Valli sets the premise for this review. Valli in Malayalam meaning land, vine, young woman, daily wages, encapsulates all these as the novel delves into the past, present and future of Wayanad. This district in the north-east of Kerala’s Western Ghats peopled with many Adivasis, most of them from the Paniyar community, was once a luxuriant biosphere but now denuded in the name of development.

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