First published in 1956, Chemmeen tells the story of the relationship between Karuthamma, a Hindu woman from the fisherfolk community, and Pareekutty, the son of a Muslim fish wholesaler. Knowing that it was a forbidden love, Karuthamma marries Palani, an orphan from another fishing village. Palani and Karuthamma’s marriage is stricken by gossip surrounding Karuthamma’s past and soon Palani too has to bear the stigma of that love affair. Nevertheless he doesn’t stop trusting her, a trust that is reaffirmed each time he goes to sea and comes back safe since the myth among the fishermen community is that the safe return of a fisherman depends on the fidelity of his wife.
Then, one night, Karuthamma and Pareekutty meet and their love is rekindled while Palani is at sea, baiting a shark …
The hugely successful novel, known for the author’s departure from his realistic style, was adapted into a film of the same name, and won critical acclaim and commercial success. Anita Nair’s evocative translation brings this classic of Indian literature to a new generation that hasn’t had the opportunity to savour this tale of love and longing.