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Home / Books / Writing is the best medium to question authority, says Benyamin

Writing is the best medium to question authority, says Benyamin

The JCB Prize winning author takes on the powerful mafias that power religious dogmatism into people’s lives and holds up a mirror to its corruption and irrationality

books Updated: Jul 10, 2020 21:13 IST
Navneet Vyasan
Navneet Vyasan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Benyamin won the JCB Prize for his work Aadujeevitham
Benyamin won the JCB Prize for his work Aadujeevitham (PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JCBPRIZE (PHOTO: SOONI TARAPOREWALA))

In 2018, author Benyamin took everyone by surprise when he won the JCB Prize of Literature. His novel Jasmine Days told the story of a young Pakistani woman, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, set in the backdrop of the Arab Spring. But it was his 2008 novel Aadujeevitham or Goat Days that propelled him to literary stardom. Both these works were originally written in Malayalam.

The evangelists and televangelists are using the innocence of common people. It is a product of Capitalism.

“Till I went to gulf searching for a job, I never thought of literature. It was not my field, passion or dream. But when I reached, I felt that I am on a lonely planet,” says the author who draws extensively from his experiences in the Gulf, where he spent more than two decades of his life. The inhuman treatment of labours, their despicable lifestyle and unfortunate fate is reflected in his words.

Benyamin’s latest work Body and Blood
Benyamin’s latest work Body and Blood

His latest work, Body and Blood “is about organ trafficking and spiritual trading”. Benyamin feels there’s a link between the mafia that orchestrates trafficking and religious dogmatism. “I started to study more about organ trafficking and found how the mafia works. The evangelists and televangelists are using the innocence of common people. It is a product of Capitalism. I realised how these two mafia are connected to each other,” he says, adding, “Writing is the best medium to address political issues and raise questions against power.”

It is our duty to raise political question in our fiction. Many Indian writers are aware of the situation and their works become more political. Best example is Arundhati Roy.

The author adds that today, writing has become a political activity. “For entertainment we have so many other mediums available. But all those mediums are so blind to reality. They are in a utopian dream world. Then who will address the reality? Who will raise the political questions, other than writers? It is our duty to raise political question in our fiction. That is the best medium to address the political issues and questions against power. For that, we must stay with the reality and wide open our eyes to see it. Many of the Indian writers are aware of the situation and their works become more political. Best example is Arundhati Roy.”

His novel Aadujeevitham is currently being adapted into a Malayalam film starring Prithviraj and Amala Paul. The film also marks composer AR Rahman’s return to Malayalam cinema. “I am very much involved with the film and was on the location for the first two schedules,” says the author.

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