Zacharia, Paul (1945--) By V, Sanil
Paul Zacharia, a short story writer, novelist, and essayist, introduced the notion of counter-modernity to Malayalam literature in the late 1960s. He rejected the self-definition of Western modernity and its Indian nationalist versions. Drawing upon the clarity of vernacular Biblical idioms and the intelligence of everyday rural life, Zacharia probed the fragile certainties of urban life, intellectual establishments, and religious orthodoxies. He acknowledged that ‘Jesus Christ, cinema, bars, friends, lovers, hens and dogs have given me stories.’
Zacharia was born in the village of Urulikunnam, near Kottayam, and published his first story, ‘Unni the Child’, in 1964. Zachariayude Kathakal, the collection of his short stories written up to the year 2000, won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2006. Two of his novellas, Praise the Lord and Enthondu Visesham Pilathose? [What News, Pilate?], have been translated into English. Two short story collections are also available in English: Bhaskara Pattelar and Other Stories and Reflections of a Hen in Her Last Hour and Other Stories. Vidheyan [The Servile], a film that won best Malayalam film in 1993, was an adaptation of Zacharia’s story ‘Bhaskara Pattelarum Ente Jeevithavum.’ Zacharia has been active in print media and publishing; he was one of the founders of the Asianet television network.