Of a Family’s Fall from Grace
Rohini Mokashi-Punekar
THE BOOK OF PASSING SHADOWS (AYUSSINTE PUSTHAKAM) by C. V. Balakrishnan Niyogi Books, 2022, 226 pp., 350.00
October 2022, volume 46, No 10

Serialized in the Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi in 1983, and published as a novel a year later, CV Balakrishnan’s Ayussinte Pusthakam has become over the years a widely read work that is regularly prescribed in university curricula. The novel’s initial success was restricted to a more youthful audience, but today it has been published in 26 editions, a testimony to the acclaim and admiration which this work continues to elicit.

This first English translation by TM Yesudasan is titled The Book of Passing Shadows and should help in making the novel available to a readership beyond the Malayalam speaking public sphere. In the Translator’s Note Yesudasan addresses the specific challenges he faced in translating the novel:

The greatest challenge a translator faces is the fear of losing the original beauty of the book ‘in translation’. As I set out to work on this translation, difficulties began to appear one by one. The style of the language adopted by Ayussinte Pusthakam was modelled on the Malayalam translation of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. How to overcome the problem of translating the antique beauty of this biblical language back into English for contemporary readers?

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