Friday, September 12, 2008

S. K. Pottekkatt

Sankaran Kutty Pottekkatt, Popularly known as S. K. Pottekkatt, (March 14, 1913–August 6, 1982) was a famous Malayalam writer. He is the author of several novels and travelogues. Pottekat won the Jnanpith Award in 1980 for the novel Oru Desattinte Katha

S. K. Pottekkat was born in Kozhikode as the son of Kunchiraman Pottekkatt, an English schoolteacher. After graduating from Zamorin’s College, Kozhikode he went on to work as a teacher in a Gujarati local school for a year. At this time he became keenly interested in travelling and began an odyssey that would ultimately take him to many parts of the globe including destinations in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

As a first step he travelled to Bombay in 1939 where he worked for some years punctuated by extensive travels across the country. This Bombay trip (described in his travelogue and memoir Ente Vazhiyambalangal) broadened his horizons and was a turning point in his literary life. While in Bombay, he involved himself in the India’s freedom struggle and worked alongside freedom fighters like Mathai Manjooran.

While in Bombay,Pottekkatt wrote his first novel Naadanpremam (1939) which was followed by Yavanikakku Pinnil (a collection of short stories) in 1940, followed by the second novel Vishakanyaka which received a prize from the Madras government in 1949.

Besides his extensive travels and literary works, Pottekkatt also dabbled in politics. In 1957, he contested the parliamentary election from Tellicherry but lost by 1000 votes. In 1962, he won the parliamentary election from the same constituency with a majority of 66,000 votes against his fellow littérateur Sukumar Azhikode.

Oru Theruvinte Katha won the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award. His biographical novel Oru Desattinte Katha won the Kerala Sahithya Academy in 1972, the Kendra Sahithya Academy Award in 1977, and the Jnanpith Award in 1980.

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