KMB 2016: Israeli Eliyahu Bezallel recalls ‘The Saga of Muziris’.

Writer Sethu’s famed Malayalam novel released in English. Memories of his hometown in Chendamangalam from where the first batch of Jews, including himself, migrated to Israel post-independence came to the fore for Eliyahu Bezallel during the book release of ‘The Saga of Muziris’, an English version of noted litterateur Sethu’s novel ‘Marupiravi’ at the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale-2016.

The presence of Bezallel, who is characterised in the fiction about Muziris, was a sheer coincidence adding to the enthusiasm of those gathered at Fort Kochi for the launch.

“As Kerala is my motherland, I fly down to Kochi from Israel every year and visit Chendamangalam. I always tell people about the hamlet, a unique place where Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims have lived together in perfect harmony. The basic reason behind it is their philosophy of ‘give and take respect’,” said Bezallel, a noted horticulturist, who migrated to Israel in 1955.

KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty released the book and handed over the first copy to Bezallel in a function at the pavilion in Cabral Yard.

The ‘Saga of Muziris’ is a fascinating tale of the glory and decline of a major port, a hub of maritime trade in Kerala, which had mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth during the 14th century. Historians, archaeologists and academics, from the world over, had been looking for the lost Muziris ever since.

Some interesting leads, at the archeological excavations at Pattanam, prompt Aravindan, the narrator, to pay a visit to his homeland. What follows is a magical journey, enticing Aravindan to sail into the dark annals of history. In an effort to document his findings, Aravindan unravels the evolution of the area over several thousands of years—through political turmoils, social struggles, emigrations and more—unfolding an alluring history through powerfully and indelibly etched characters.

“Writing this book was an adventure for me. Moreover, Bezallel’s presence has given the book release a dream-like feel. I have written this book essentially for the next generation to shed a light on Muziris and its culture,” said writer Sethu.

Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee of Niyogi Books introduced the book. The book, ‘Marupiravi’ published in 2011, has been translated into English by Prema Jayakumar.

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