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ആരാച്ചാര്‍ [Aarachar]

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,470 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Award winning novel Aarachaar(Executioner) is a story based on the Indian culture of caste and religion. Set in Bengal, it tells the story of a family of executioners with a long lineage, beginning in the fourth century BC. The protagonist of the novel, Chetna, is a strong and tenacious woman who struggles to inherit this profession.

According to noted literary critic M. Le
Paperback, 1, 552 pages
Published December 15th 2012 by DC BOOKS (first published November 2012)
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RAMEES RAHMAN I felt it as a feminist piece. Good to read. Featuring the strength and weakness of females of India. Feelings of the suppressed women. How they arise…moreI felt it as a feminist piece. Good to read. Featuring the strength and weakness of females of India. Feelings of the suppressed women. How they arise from such a situation. Many things like that. The way of presentation is really beautiful. And i really wonder how the author understood the life style of such a poor class of Bengal.

Each chapter holds two or three stories from different centuries, beautifully blended, and finally proves that the problems, suppressions,and reactions of women are similar in all time periods, but with different faces.(less)

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Nandakishore Varma
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Capital punishment is a sensitive question: is it allowable for the state to kill somebody? On a purely metaphoric level, most liberal people would say no. But would your answer still be the same if the convict was, say, a sex offender who raped and tortured a girl to death? More so, if she was known to you?

Is justice involving the taking of a human life, justified? Is killing by the state murder or justice? Is punishment justice or revenge? Is capital punishment a deterrent for crimes?

All diffi
Shine Sebastian
Chetna!!! Now, that's A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!!!! OMG! The strongest and mightiest female character ever in Malayalam literature ! ( atleast in my humble opinion. )
An extraordinary book , that deals with the topic of Capital Punishment, the long and fascinating history of the Hangman family of the Grudha Malliks and so much more... . The atmosphere it creates in the reader's mind is just so intruiging and at the same time so haunting, relevant, scathing, brilliant and reveting.

The story is
Gorab Jain
Depressing, grim powerhouse, and yet beautifully crafted.
The kind of book which shouldn't be kept on your shelf, rather hanging from the roof with a noose around it.

It was a difficult read because of extreme negativity of characters. Had many sleepless nights due to this.
Within the main plot, there are 45-50 short stories about hanging and death.
Unbelievable descriptions of Kolkata coming from a Malayalam writer. The writing is extraordinarily good! (I read the English translation)
51 chapter
Sheer brilliance manifesting as a very grim, morose, turbulent tale told with maximum impact upon readers.
The story of.a 22 year old girl, Chetana who is from a family of hangmen who practiced their trade from a time when Bengal, or even Jesus Christ wasn't born.
Chetana is urged to take up the job of Hangwoman as her father is getting senile and the family needs a working member.
And the Indian government is not too keen to provide her with that particular job, which would really have gone to Ram
Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader.

Hangwoman by K. R. Meera is a translated novel from India that opens with the main character being asked to take up the position of the first hangwoman of India. The novel is about what it is to be a woman in a society where men dictate what happens to your life, your body, and your home. The main character, Chetna Grddha-Mullick, observes the way her life is shaped by the actions of her father and a journalist hell-bent on possessing her body and t
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dsc-south-asian
The Hangwoman (Arachar in malayalam) is one of the grimmest yarns you will ever read. Chetna Mullick is a heroine you'll remember for long (and also recall how many relatives she had!)

A tale that had a hanging of a rapist as a backdrop and world's first Hangwoman is bound to have a lot to say on death. 70% of the book has tales, subplots, history, mythology of hangings - victims introduced through their hangmen. The author slips in a few real hangings and stories that keeps you guessing which is
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Took me almost a month to read this book. But boy! What a ride it was. I consider it as an accomplishment of sorts as I read the Malayalam original.

The story revolves around Chethana the hang woman, her musings and her narrations from her vast store of ancestral memories. Though some of the stories were outright cruel loved most of them especially Pingalakeshinis.. The mood of the book is that of pathos and there is a feministic undertone . Though initially I did not like any of the characters,
Deepthi Terenz
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: malayalam
The Gruddha Mallick family got the position of an executioner as a legacy which the family marks-out from four hundred years ago. Mallick is the only family who has witnessed many incidences which makes a note in the Indian history. Chetna Mallick belongs to such a family. Chetna’s father Phonibhushan, who too followed the family work of execution, has hanged more than 450 convicts till death. To continue this family legacy, there is no male member in the family. At this scenario, twenty-two-yea ...more
Ramesh Thampi
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This magnificent piece of work is a must-read milestone in contemporary Malayalam literature. Intertwined by myths, history, ancestral stories, detailed depictions of Kolkata streets and the inner depths of the female protagonist, this book is going to live for centuries. The popularity this book receives is not over-hyped but well deserved.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still in Kolkata I think. It's crazy how this book stays with you long after you've finished it and even moved on to the next book. I think the protagonist in this book is as much the city as it is Chetna Grddha Mullick.

(I'm not going to give a synopsis of the story - that's not how reviews work, IMO.)

First off - 3 cheers to the translator J Devika for a stupendous job of translating this from Malayalam. Not even for a minute did it feel like a translated work (which is a distraction for me
Arun Divakar
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
The whole idea of a career as an executioner is an appalling one isn’t it ? There are other careers were killing is a part of the job description. You kill people for a country as a soldier, for an ideology as an armed revolutionary/terrorist, as a policeman etc. This bloodying of hands however is only one part of these jobs and not the only one. The most terrifying aspect of being an executioner to me has been this preoccupation with death. There will be a theory that an executioner is but an i ...more
Parvathi Preethan
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad to have read this gem of a book, rightly called one of the best contemporary novels in Malayalam.

Through the eyes of the 22 year old protagonist Chetna, the author K R Meera poses searing and poignant questions about capital punishment, the extent of media, patriarchy, poverty and politics in our country, set in the historical background of Kolkata.

The narrative sometimes gets a bit confusing, when the many characters and stories of present day and history get interwoven together,
Andy Weston
This lengthy novel, set in Kolkata, chiefly concerns Chetna, the 22-year-old daughter of 88-year-old Phanibhushan Grddha Mullick, self-professed veteran of 451 hangings.
Life in Kolkata features strongly, from the ups and downs of everyday life in the Chtipur suburb in a one-room tenement shared with half-a-dozen family members, to the history that has formed what it has become. In describing the stench of the corpses burning on ghats in the nearby Ganges, Meera brought on my sneezes.
At a glanc
Anoop Nair
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
As said in the preface, it is really a modern classic. The plot, the situations, the innumerable characters all had the touch of our great authors of the past.

For me, it was a gripping book. I rated one star less, because this book is full of tragedies. A book full of Deaths and the people who killed them. The story of the history of an arachar family. It is plotted in Kolkata. I liked the book very much, mainly because of the way of writing, but I donno how many other people will like this, ma
Vadassery Rakesh
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
Unbelievably tenacious. The story is like a magician's ribbon, whoch never stops coming out of another one. Stories keep on regenerating from one story to another, with the reader losing track of most of it by the end. But the real tenacity by the author makes the reader appreciate her and he/she keeps on reading. This is how the classics are written. When Marquez wrote about Macondo, it was the same, stories kept on germinating from the other.
It would have taken a lifetime for the writer to co
Haris Junoo
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I find a blend of Dark and lux throughout the line. Its a story about a normal women and the evolution of her superiority from the weakness. i walked through the Recent Nimtala crematorium as Chethna(heroin). as well as the words send me centuries back to Gilji. you can hear the sounds of Black horse's shoe, that is riding through ancient Kolkatta. you can here the sounds of "braeking Maadir kudi" and roars of hanged peoples from streets. you can smell the dark marshy soils from the Nimtala and ...more
This book is about 22 years old Chetna Mullik and the way her life changes when she is appointed a role as Hangman(Hang woman). Hangman is main occupation of Chetna's family from generations. Book tells us about stories of all her ancestors from Emperor Ashoka to only female in family.
Chetna is common Indian girl but she is real kick-ass heroine the way she fights with her inner turmoil and changes in life she don't need to literally kick someone.
This book not only tells us how Chetna's life cha
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really doubtful about this book coz the short stories by this author was disappointing...But this book was amazing..I gave 4 stars because the book is tooo lengthy....lots n lots of stories said by the main characters....even when all this stories were good, i thought it was little too much....\

Still...great book!!!I became a fan of Chethana Mallik..!! :)
Jerin Johny
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Haunting! Depressing, and Grim. Couldn't put down the book.

Chetana Gruddha Mallik - the mightiest female protagonist Malayalam literature has ever seen.

The history of the Hangman family, tracing back to 400 B.C.E narrated through the first ever Hang woman (Fiction).

The journey of an ignorant 22 year old Bangla girl to representing the woman power of the whole world.

K.R. Meera, the author said she wrote 'Aarachar' because she wanted to shatter her readers.
She surely did.

This book leaves you
N Kalyan
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary and original work. Stunningly imaginative treatment of women, history and the gothic nature of the times we live in. I particularly liked that it is set in Kolkata, in the other-wordly anarchy of Chitpur and Nimtala Ghat along with the mysterious bylanes of Sonagachi. A tour de force.
Chinar Mehta
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy-someday
This is a long book that’ll take you through an exhausting journey. Chetna, the protagonist, is a gentle but fierce woman, and I am yet to read a character like hers. Her thoughts and moral quandaries are beautifully described, and her strength and vulnerability is play off each other with great finesse.

The book brings together history and surrealism really well, and that is what makes it such an interesting read. Moreover, Chetna is that intelligent character who is looking at the game of demo
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the subject is rather grim, this novel is quite whimsical in many ways. The protagonist, Chetna, is quite the story teller--someone who weaves in legends and history into her present day narrative beautifully. Throughout the novel she ties in Subhas Chandra Bose, the events in Chittagong, Ashoka, APJ Abdul Kalam, and a whole host of other historical and mythical figures. All of this emerges from Chetna the narrator who reveals her own story, and her family's long lineage of hangmen. She ...more
Darshana Suresh
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
This was the second malayalam novel I chose to read and it didn't disappoint. Chethana Gridha Malik is still somehwere inside me tying and untying knots in her dupatta.
Certain quotes from the book still lingers in my mind.
I didn't really like the way the book ended though.
But still the character development, detailed description of Calcutta, the bengla poems and songs everything screams the level of research the author has done.
What astonished me the most was that the character was so relatable
Nimitha T.R.
A different story and passionate narration. There were a few things I didn't appreciate about it. First the hunter-hunted kind of love of early youth, too dark and pathological for me to enjoy. Second, even though the main protagonist's transformation was drastic, still her idea of a desirable man remained largely primitive! She was more like a man's dream of a woman rather than a real woman! Third she shows a maturity and historical awareness far beyond her 22 years!

Towards the end it got too
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Slightly put off by the high strung drama in the plot, and at the same time charmed by how Chethna gives a voice for all the herstories wiped out of recorded history, reinventing them, brazenly weaving them into the recorded history of the nation, and how these very stories shape her in turn. Good read.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Aarachar is the story of the familial history of a hangwoman, told from her perspective. It details the few days from the time the hangwoman is tentatively assigned the job, until the execution and afterward.

One of the best books I have read.
Namitha Cheriyan
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The best Malayalam novel I've read in the year.
A must read.
മീരേച്ചീ.... ഉമ്മ്മ്മാ... <3 <3
Dr. Abin
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm obsessed with the protagonist!!!
Dec 19, 2014 added it
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K.R. Meera is an Indian author, who writes in Malayalam. She won Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2009 for her short-story, Ave Maria.She has also been noted as a screenplay writer of 4 serials.
Meera was born in Sasthamkotta, Kollam district in Kerala.She worked as a journalist in Malayala Manorama, later resigned to concentrate more on writing. She is also a well-known column-writer in Malayalam

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