The geography of our lives in Puttu, a Malayalam n...

The geography of our lives in Puttu, a Malayalam novel by Vinoy Thomas

book cover of putt a malayalam novel by Vinoy Thomas., along with a quote from the review of the book on Purple Pencil Project

Puttu (Termite Colony or Anthill) is Malayalam novel by Vinoy Thomas, his second after Karikkottakari. Puttu narrates the story of the people in a place, Perumbadi. It is a remote piece of land where people from distinct places migrate to settle. These are people looking for a place to survive. All the families migrate to Perumbadi have fateful history and past lives they wish not to recollect. They find their new place for survival as their new lease of life. None in Perumbadi likes to dig the history of others, because everybody has their own story to hide.

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Book Title: Puttu (പുറ്റ് )

Author: Vinoy Thomas

Publisher: DC Books

Pages: 382

Price: Rs 399

People and place make a community in this Malayalam novel by Vinoy Thomas

In such an emerging community, Paul sir and later his son Jeramias Paul emerge as mediators to resolve the conflicts between people. Whether it is a beef between people, crisis in the family or marital issues, the opinion of Paul sir or Jeramias is valued as final and it is unequivocally accepted. After Paul Sir’s death, Jeramias carries forward the tradition of arbitration with due weight and diligence.

Through Jeramias Paul, Vinoy Thomas narrates the complicated lives of people, their situations, reflects upon the choices they choose or only have and, the consequences of their choices. Thomas also portrays that individuals are mere pawns in the hands of fate; sometimes the only thing they could do is to stare at their own struggles and flow with the course of events.

The cost of being a leader

Thomas presents plethora of lives in the novel; Bhavani daivam, Neerkuzhi Achan, Kocha Raghavan, Neeru Joseph, Louis and, Philomina Sister to name a few.

Each of their histories represents two contradictions; how they constitute a significant part in the emerging history of the place and if scrutinized through the lense of moral codes, how insignificant their lives can be.

It is here that Jeramias’ importance lies; like a social engineer he (re)moulds and connects the individual lives to the greater picture – constituting an army of oneness – of Perumbadi . Are his efforts for betterment of an individual, a family, a community and to society-at-large is successful? Do his efforts of gluing and mending the twisted, broken segments always results to happy endings? Why does the chief mediator of all families of Perumbadi fails to resuscitate his own family from impending death? These are some questions that the readers stumble upon and carry with them through the pages and, in their afterthoughts.

Best Quotes

“Thangal shareerangalayi jeevichappol aazhathil verupidichathennu thonnippicha bandhangal kinavukalayirunnennum raghavaneppole ottappettavar mathramayirunnu thangalennu eppol thirichariyunnennum aa chiriyilundayirunnu. Athu manasilakkiyappol raghavanum pathiye chirichuthudangi” (288).

“The relations they had thought as deeply embedded roots, while they lived as body, were only fantasies; the realization that they were as alone as Raghavan was in their smiles. Raghavan also started slowly smiling by realising that.”


While this Malayalam novel by Vinoy Thomas highlights the themes of sex, questions of gender, identity conflicts, search for survival, morality and amorality of wealth and, meaning of faith in life in general, the tone of black humour at many places will amuse the reader. On the whole, one who wish to traverse the conflicts and crisis of humanity, individual as specific and as a member of community, Puttu is an engaging and interesting read. Also, Vinoy Thomas again proves – his command over language, in terms of dialects and evoking linguistic variations in the conveyance of cultural specificities.

Final Verdict: 4/5

Our Rating System

* – Don’t bother.
** – Borrow it if you must, use it as a travel companion.  
***– Make a purchase. Maybe an online purchase, or a kindle purchase. But buy it, encourage it.
**** – Go to a bookstore and buy it. Pay those extra bucks.
*****–Buy a hardback and show it off in your bookshelf! And then wait for a signed anniversary edition and buy that too.


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