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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  975 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Chemmeen tells the love that is not bounded by the differences of class and caste. The theme of the novel is a myth about chastity among the fishermen communities along the coastal Kerala State in the Southern India.
Published by DC Books (first published 1956)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Smitha Murthy
As I laid Chemmeen down, I looked around. Here I was, in my house on a Sunday afternoon, comfortably reading with another. Yet, for the past hour or so, I was buffeted by stormy seas, howling winds, a doomed love, and angry words. Chemmeen grew on me slowly. I wondered initially at the utter simplicity of the language, but there is a natural cadence and rhythm that TS Pillai must have used in the original Malayalam.

There are many themes that make me feel I would like to explore this book more -
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
T. S Pillai's masterpiece "Chemmeen" is a mesmerising seaside story. "Chemmeen" is a realistic fictional tragedy which focuses on the lifestyle of early fishermen folk in Kerala, the southern part of India. Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's "Chemmeen" is the first Malayalam novel to win Sahitya Akademi award. The English version has been translated by Anita Nair and the translation is simple yet beautiful to read.
This book had been made into a Malayalam movie by the same name. The cover page of the
I had watched the movie when I was a little kid and remember only hazy parts about the beach, the sea and boats sailing madly past each other. Saw the English version of this 'enduring malayalam classic' in a bookshop in Calicut and couldn;t resist buying it then and there. T S Pillai (or Thakazhi as he is popularly called) is an eminent malayalee author and I have read many of his books in malayalam, but somehow missed this one. I decided to read the translated version in English and was amused ...more
Teenu Vijayan
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure every malayali knows about this classic book.
It took me to the fishermen village and folks. Their lives governed by their laws. Laws of sea.
Karuthamma and Pareekutty or kochumuthalalli fall in love,just like how waves touch the sea shores their love has no permanent fixature in their lives.
The sacrifices they make gives the story its pace. How deep can love run it course? How many lives will it claim.innocent and not so innocent spectators merge in and out of the narrative.
The author
Amrita Pillai
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So here's presenting my last pick for #discoveringindiareadathon : Chemmeen (the Prawn).The epic novel written by T.S. Pillai was the first Malayalam novel to win the Sahitya Akademi Award, later made into a popular malayalam movie.🍤 ⁣

This is a story about the fishermen folk in Kerala and in it's core, it is a forbidden love story of a young Muslim tradesman- Pareekutty and a Hindu fisherwoman- Karuthamma who grew up on the same sea shore. Due to obvious differences, there weren't allowed to be
Arun Divakar
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The sea and a beach are sights that many a person can never have enough of. There is something so awe-inspiring in the sight of the horizonless ocean that brings people back to it again and again. The beach while being a place for some much deserved downtime, skin tans and frolic there aren’t a lot many times where I can confidently say that I have thought about the lives of people who survive with just the sea alone. Kerala has been witness to both the heroism and tragedy of the fishermen in th ...more
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the story throughout, it was an emotional journey, and we could easily relate to it.
It's a Well crafted tale depicting the lives of Fisher folks in Kerala.
Story of Mother Sea's sons and daughters; their values and way of life is what makes this story possible. Clash between norms and liberty makes their life happy, miserable and engaging; a life worth to live.
Muthu Anand
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Living in proximity of sea I can well relate to this cult classic. Even though I read a translated work still I can feel the essence, kudos to the translator. It was like watching a old classic movie.The characters will remain etched in my heart for long time.
The story seems non-fictional for me, despite being fictional.

My deepest condolence for Pareekutty(Fictional)
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evokes images in the mind's eye as a good book should. Grey characters with depth and nuance and a taunt pace ensure this love story is very readable.

Of course, like most malayalees I had heard about the movie much before the book. Happily, I had not seen it so the book was my introduction to the story and I'm glad it was that way. If you've not seen it, I'd give the movie a pass or just flit through it in 10 minutes on youtube. Cinema in 1965 just did not have the means to do justice to the bo
Sandip Balakrishnan
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned
A poignant tale of immortal love which epitomised love for Malayalees for decades.It was always the Keralites take on Laila Majnu,Heer Ranja and Romeo Juliet.The tale has more than Pareekutti and Karuthamma's unfinished love and final enlightenment.The writing in a simple understandable literature has its share of arrogant dad,doting mom and an incomplete tale of a sibling left to tend and clean after their mess.Panchami is a birth that better never happened.A sordid tale in glimpses and an immo ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
When I started on, I had no intentions of going till the end as I thought it could be just a story of poverty, love, betrayal and all that... and yes, it was that but with a difference, I could not resist turning the pages one after the other and it flowed.. smoothly..

The life of fishermen and women, their beliefs, the petty horizon of all of it without much of the outer worldly interventions makes it enjoyable!

But what a tragic end for all of it?

In short, I enjoyed a great deal!!
Sumith Prasad
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
by expressing the love of 2..thakazhi expresses the feelings of a dad on his daughter that impressed me..the characters were good especially 'ChembanKunju' and the surroundings of a sea and the language is apt for expressing it...
Richa Sharma Dhamorikar
Chemmeen is a Malayali version of a love tragedy between two people (I guess every language, every culture have their shares of this storyline!) from different communities, who were not meant to be with each other (according to the society) but who never knew how to exist otherwise. Like all stories set in 90s India, this also very clearly acknowledges and discusses the man-made divisions along the lines of caste, religion, class etc. that we still struggle with.

It is a simple, sad love story o
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chemmeen is an epic tragedy that encompasses ambition, sorrow, pleasure, anxiety, love, anger, betrayal, sensuality in its purest form. It is a widely successful and celebrated novel of Malayalam literature, and has been translated in many regional and international languages. It depicts the daily struggle of the fishermen community imbued with their own myths, customs, taboos, beliefs, and rituals. Although translated works can sometimes rob the original ones of their souls, I believe Anita Nai ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is unnecessary to do an analysis of the plot. Like every other plot, it is a plot that has been told a hundred thousand times. How worth is it therefore to think about how action leads to action leads to conclusion? Even inaction has its consequences and consequence, not conclusion, is worth your attention.

Conceive this novel idea: there exists no plot. Only theme.

Desire. Or is it greed? Or ambition? And so how does the symbol of ambition and acquired wealth, the great boat of Chemban Kunju
Natalia Ahmed
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly moving and tragic tale of a young poor fisherwoman who falls in love with a Muslim man, yet tries to adhere to her own traditions - even though she suffers greatly for the honor of her community
Subha Venkateswaran
A classic

A classic and a must read. Though have seen the movie, reading the book was an amazing experience. Finished reading in a go.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and realistic love story. Portrayed from the perspective of a woman, her internal struggle between love and her duties. The novel's a tragedy, but it couldn't have ended in any other way.
Libu Balakrishnan
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lb
Lost in transalation !! I should learn to read Malayalam well.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sneha Divakaran
This book is crying for a better translation!

I've reviewed the book here -
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tragic tale of how superstition and prejudice masked in traditions and customs, greed and gossip bring about the the downfall of a fisher family. In the centre of it all, a young couple's forbidden love - because they come from different religious and caste backgrounds. I had hoped perhaps love would triumph all.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read ..... its a classic 😍
Krutika Puranik
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chemmeen is a story of heartbreaks, sacrifices and love. When I picked this up on an impulse in Pondicherry, little did I know that this book was incredibly famous and was later made into a movie which went ahead to win many awards. I'm glad that I decided to give this a read.
The protagonist in this story is a young woman, Karuthamma who is the daughter of a fisherman. Living on the shores of Kerala, she falls in love with her childhood friend Pareekutty. But fishermen and women have
This is a review of the English translation of Chemmeen by Anita Nair.

There is not much to write about Thakazhi SivasankaraPillai’s Chemmeen, written in 1956 and translated by Anita Nair in 2011. The original novel written in Malyalam must was a widely acclaimed classic, the translated version was childish and silly. Undeveloped characters, and unexplained motivations made me lose interest in the book, but I plodded on in the hope that something would change.

Karuthamma, the daughter of Chakki a
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read and it hit home several points that I am personally facing currently and have been facing as a woman and as an Asian at that.
I'm so grateful to my Scottish Lit friends who recommended this to me, introducing South Indian authors to my ever growing list.
I'm not sure if this can be categorized as a Feminist work or a criticism of Asian superstition that still plague our societies, but I'm astounded by Pillai's feminist dialogue.
He doesn't fully give in to the feminist belief
Sharayu Ail
I had heard about the myth referenced in the novel so I picked it up to read. I haven't read the original Malayalam version so I can't say if the translation does justice.

The story is slow but it isn't boring at all. The characters are fully fleshed out and you'll find yourself feeling for them at every stage. It is a very realistic story portrayed simply. There is no pretence and the novel does not try to be more than it is. A great window into the village morality that ostracizes as quickly as
Chemmeen (meaning: Prawns ) is more famous as a movie than as a novel. It is a story interwined with the Fisherfolk community and the myths and beliefs fostered by the community. The belief is that the safety of a fisherman goes into the wild seas is governed by the chastity / fidelity of the womanfolk who is waiting for him ashore.

Chemmeen won the Presidents Gold Medal award in the Best Fim Category in 1965. It was a colossal effort involving South Indian technicians like Ramu Kariat teaming wi
Moitreyee Mitra
Another of those that was always on the list of 'to read', managed because of syllabus requirement. Poignant love story, closed societies, tough lifestyles linked with the vagaries of nature, personalities all conniving to keep the young couple separated, can only end in multiple deaths. Nobody ends up happily, neither the one pursuing prosperity, losing all sense of integrity, definitely not those living by their emotions. One could wish that societies would cease creating such desperate lives, ...more
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Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Malayalam: തകഴി ശിവശങ്കര പിള്ള) (17 April 1912 - 10 April 1999) was a novelist and short story writer of Malayalam language. He is popularly known as Thakazhi, after his place of birth. He focused on the oppressed classes as the subject of his works, which are known for their attention to historic detail. He has written several novels and over 600 short stories. His mo ...more

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