Do Not Go to the Jungle


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Author: Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu
Translator: J. Devika

9789391234645 | PB | pp. 180 | 2021 | Eka

A ‘socio-horror’ writing that dissects the hair-raising manipulations of power. Moving seamlessly between the real and the surreal, these finely crafted stories shine a light on the anxieties of the disenfranchised, the would-be preys.

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A nightwatchman at a sawmill on the edge of a forest tries to forge a bond with a lone fox; a mysterious woman arrives on a night train in the town of Madampi, leaving in her wake lovers withering and paralysed; the great communist leader ‘AKG’ mistakenly boards the general compartment of the Malabar Express and is horrified by the scene that meets his eye; a lonely station master at a derelict railway station erects on the platform a stuffed doll in his own image; a migrant labourer reads out his PhD thesis to the camels he’s herding in the Gulf; Isa is declared dead from Covid in Dubai and deported to India, where ghosts are unwelcome.

Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu’s ‘socio-horror’ writings, as he calls them, dissect the hair-raising manipulations of power. Moving seamlessly between the real and the surreal, these finely crafted stories shine a light on the anxieties of the disenfranchised, the would-be preys.

Macabre as they are, Shihabuddin’s prose is also replete with tender, heart-warming beauty—as in life, so in these tales, the light is never quite far from the dark and the unsavoury. Making Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu’s work accessible to the English-reading public for the very first time, J. Devika’s stellar translation of his stories marks the arrival of a world-class writer in a new language.


Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu
Translator: J. Devika









Year of Publication:






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About the Author

Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu was born in 1963 in Kannur, north Kerala. He is one of Malayalam’s leading fiction writers. He has been awarded the most prestigious prizes for literature in Malayalam: the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, the P. Padmarajan prize, the V.T. Bhattatiripad prize and the Abudhabi Malayali Samajam Award, among others.

Shihabuddin’s working life began at the age of fifteen when he dropped out of school and began to work as a cleaner in a hotel. Since then he worked multiple jobs—as a helper in wedding feasts, a waiter in a restaurant, an ironing boy, a cleaner in a lorry, subscription-collector for the local merchants’ association, by-stander in a hospital, proofreader, timber loader, house painter, wood polisher, sand loader, cashier in a restaurant, nightwatchman in a saw mill, and so on. However, he continued his school education and went on to earn a college degree, after which he worked in different capacities in the media as journalist, script-writer, and editor in Dubai and Kerala. He has published thirty-eight books in Malayalam and his oeuvre includes short stories, novels, poetry, essays and memoirs. His work has been translated into Hindi, Tamil, English and Arabic.

His first story appeared in print in 1982, after which he was widely recognised to be a new and electrifying voice that challenged accepted aesthetic practices in writing. His first collection of short stories appeared soon after and received much praise from the doyens of Malayalam literature, including Kamala Das and T. Padmanabhan. Most of his books have run into multiple editions, with the sales of each one crossing 10,000 copies. His stories have been prescribed by the Kerala State Education Board, the University of Calicut, the Mahatma Gandhi University and the University of Kerala, in their syllabi.

J. Devika is a researcher and teacher at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. She has translated the works of many literary authors including K.R. Meera, Sara Joseph, Unni R. and several others from Malayalam to English.


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