If there is a God and other stories

The ten stories in this collection cover different spaces and unravel many layers that Imayam so masterfully and effortlessly weaves into his narratives of social and gender inequalities in the midst of power play. A school boy, who is a terror for the warden, shows inclusiveness far mature for his age; the reality check in which politics is caught when the true worker gets lost in the background; the irony of the changing meaning of sex between the wife and her husband as the years go by; a mother’s response to the pragmatic solution offered to her when her young son has been killed by his teacher’s sexual abuse and she wants justice to be done; the resilience of a woman whose husband becomes a ‘government corpse’ in these Covid times – are just some of the voices we hear through Imayam.

These are extra-ordinary stories about ordinary people – mostly women. Women with grit and determination distilled through challenges and hardships of life.

Everything is happening here and now. In a way they hold a mirror to the contemporary life lived in our villages and towns.

Imayam, the writer evinces an uncanny ability to delve deep into the recesses of the subconscious. Small little details of a scene or bits of seemingly casual conversations are deftly employed to bring out a mood of ease or tension. His subaltern women characters as varied as teachers, construction workers, house-wives and grave diggers emanate a high degree of verve, dignity and forthrightness normally not associated with their class in common perception.

Prabha Sridevan’s faithful rendering recreates the spirit and style of the original work in Tamil giving us the impression that nothing has been lost in translation.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Filmmaker


Imayam – pen name of V. Annamalai, a schoolteacher and a writer, has published seven novels: Koveru Kazhuthaigal (1994), Arumugam (1999), Chedal (2006), En Katha (2015), Selladha Panam (2018), Vaazhga Vaazhga (2020), Ippodhu Uyirodirukkiren (2022) and a novella  Pethavan (2014). He has six short story collections to his credit: Man Baaram (2002), Video Mariamman (2008), Kolai Cheval (2013), Saavu Soru (2014), Narumanam (2016) and Nan Maaran Kottai Kathai (2019). He was granted the Junior Fellowship by the Central Government (1999) and has been honoured by many awards including the Tamil Nadu State Award (2010), the Iyal Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and the Sahitya Akademi Award (2020). 

In 2019, Cre-A celebrated the silver jubilee of his first novel Koveru Kazhuthaigal, considered as one of the classics of present-day Tamil literature, by publishing a special edition. Its English translation Beasts of Burden (by Lakshmi Holmstrom) was followed by a Kannada translation. His novel Arumugam has been translated into English and the novella Pethavan into English, Telugu and French. A collection of his short stories in English translation Video Mariamman and other stories (Speaking Tiger) was published in 2021. Malayalam and English translations of his award winning Selladha Panam are under way.

Prabha Sridevan

Prabha Sridevan is a former judge of the Madras High Court (2000–2010) and the former chairperson of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (2011–2013). Her judgments have dealt, among other things, with the right to freedom of speech, protection of heritage buildings, rights of the oppressed classes, rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality, the economic worth of a homemaker’s work, compulsory licensing of a cancer drug, and challenge by Novartis to India’s Patent Act. She writes in English and Tamil on issues of law and life. Seeing in the Dark (OUP, 2015), a collection of short stories by Chudamani, was her first work of translation. Her second Echoes of the Veena (Ratna Books, 2018) won the Valley of Words Award 2019 for translation. Her third book is Meeran’s Stories (Ratna Books, 2022).

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