Dattapaharam: Call Of The Forest – V.J. James; Tr. Ministhy S.


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‘I could hear wild animals, as hungry as I was, growling down below, having caught my human smell. They attempted to scale the rocks. If there was one among them that could climb the cliff, my helplessness would turn me into its dinner tonight.’

On the eve of Independence Day, Mahesh reads a small news item about a mysterious forest dweller who appeared in the middle of a rainforest out of nowhere and disappeared without a clue. Immediately, he recognizes the man to be Freddie Robert, their friend, guide, leader and the one they had all named Yudhisthira, who had disappeared into the forest several months ago, in search of a rare new bird. Mahesh and his four friends, each named after a Pandava brother, and Panchali, or Meera, decide that the only way they can ascertain whether the man was indeed Freddie is to return to the forest and search for him.

Thus begins Dattapaharam, a powerhouse of a novel by the critically acclaimed and bestselling Malayalam author V.J. James. A rumination on solitude, man’s connection with nature and the strings that attach us to this world, this is a surreal novel where the author’s imagination soars like an eagle and words flow like the untouched springs in a rainforest. At times a fable on the modern world, at times a search for identity amid a quest of discovery, and on the whole a moving tale that takes the reader deep into the forests to understand what really makes us human, Dattapaharam is a powerful novel for our anthropocentric age, written by one of the most exciting voices to emerge from the Indian subcontinent.


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