Sarah Joseph – Malayalam novelist best known for writing strong female characters.

Sarah Joseph is a leading writer associated with Malayalam literature. She is widely regarded as a prominent Malayalam novelist of post-independence era. She is also an activist, and feminist, and most of her works were women oriented, with strong female characters. She founded the activist organization Manushi in the 1980s. She was a recipient of numerous honours including Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award.

Aalahayude Penmakkal is her most popular work

Among all her works, Aalahayude Penmakkal (1999) is her celebrated work, which was awarded Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award 2003 and the Vayalar Award for year 2004. The work also received Kerala Sahitya Academy award of 2001 and Cherukad Award 2000. The novel was the first in the trilogy which also include ‘Mattathi‘ and ‘Othappu‘.

Sarah Joseph – Among the first names of modern literature linked strong female characters

If we mention about women-oriented writings of modern Malayalam literature, especially novels, her name pops up among the prominent writers. Her works are essentially liberalistic, with powerful characters and strong message, and many times represent the stories of supressed classes, and their hidden feelings.

She came into the literal world as successor of female writers like Lalithambika Antharjanam. Legendary writers – Madhavikutty and Sugatha Kumari are her contemporary, who owned a celebrity status among female writers.

Sarah Joseph – A brief intro

Sarah was born in 1946 into a conservative Christian family. She was married at the age of 15 while studying 9th grade. After doing teacher’s training course, she also completed Master’s in Malayalam literature and taught at many colleges.

Initially she started writing poetry during school days and later shifted to short stories and novels. Many of her poems were published that time. When she switched to writing novels, she became one of the most popular female novelists of post-independent era. After retirement, she moved to Mulamkunnathukavu in Thrissur district.

Her published works include:-

She published both short stories and novels thereafter. Apart from her celebrated trilogy, Aalahayude Penmakkal, Mattathi, and Othappu, other published novels include – Thaikulam, Ooru Kaval, Aathi etc. Manassile Thee Matram, Kadinte Sangeetham, Paapathara, Oduvilathe Suryakanthi, Nilavu Nirayunnu, Puthuramayanam, Kaadithu Kandaayo Kaanthaa and Nanmathinmakalude Vriksham are among her short story collections. Puthuramayanam and Oduvilathe Suryakanthi are her other noted works.

She joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014 and contested as candidate of AAP from Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency and lost. She also returned her 2003 Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015, as a part of protest. She also criticised silence by the Sahitya Akademi in response murders of writers and mob violence.

Sarah Joseph – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. Her daughter Sangeetha Sreenivasan is also an acclaimed writer and a winner of Kerala Sahitya Academy award.

2. She has served as a Professor of Malayalam at Sanskrit College, Pattambi.

3. Before she switched to novels, Sarah was versified in reciting poems and has got appreciations from great poets like Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon and Edasseri Govindan Nair.

4. “Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side” – is the English translation of her work, Othappu, which was done by Valson Thampu.

5. Paapathara – An anthology of her short stories is regarded as one of the best feminist works of Malayalam. In 2011, she won the Muttathu Varkey Award for this collection.

6. Her subversive reading of Ramayana, ‘Ramayana Kathakal’, met with critical acclaim.

7. She is the recipient of the first O. V. Vijayan Sahitya Puraskaram in 2011 for her novel Ooru Kaval.


(Visited 107 times, 1 visits today)


A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *