The Book of Passing Shadows
by C.V. Balakrishnan
Translated from the Malayalam Original by T. M. Yesudasan
C. V. Balakrishnan is an Indian writer of Malayalam literature. His novels embrace a range of emotional issues from sexual politics to religion and everything inbetween. The Book of Passing Shadows embodies Balakrishnan’s unique style of writing, diving into the inner conflict between bodily temptations and spiritual aspirations.
Set in a Malabar village of Christian settlers, The Book of Passing Shadows, translated from the Malayalam original Aayusinte Pusthakam, tells the story of a family’s fall from grace, and their journey to redemption.
As the narrative unravels against the wider inner conflict between bodily temptations and spiritual aspirations, the sins of one generation seem to visit ominously upon the next. Through his journey from an innocent childhood to a ruined adolescence, Yohannan loses everyone he knows as ‘family’—a father who is a convicted felon, a grieving mother who passes away while her husband is in prison, an elder sister with prospects who elopes to build a better life, a grandfather who embraces death after committing a sin, and a best friend and lover who chooses religion over domestic life. The only solace he finds is in the loving companionship of a grieving widow, Sara, who has been equally wronged by fate and unbundles her woes with him.
Faith plays a pivotal role—provides a mythical, ethical, and moral scaffolding of this heart-rending novel, which resonates with the agony and pathos of the human spirit caught in the travails of earthly life.
Written in a sublime style made lyrical with a biblical cadence and rich in scriptural allusions, this passionate and visionary narrative has remained popular with readers since it was first published in 1984.