Karur Neelakanta Pillai

Karoor Neelakanta Pillai (Malayalam: കാരൂർ നീലകണ്ഠപ്പിള്ള) (1898–1975) was a writer of Malayalam literature and one of the founders of Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham (Writers' Co-operative Society). Some of his works such as Poovan Pazham and Marappavakal are counted by many among the best short stories in Malayalam. He was a recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story in 1969, which he received for his short story, Mothiram.

Karoor Neelakanta Pillai
Born(1898-02-22)February 22, 1898
Died30 September 1975(1975-09-30) (aged 77)
Pen nameKaroor
Nationality India
GenreShort story, Novel
Notable awards1969 Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story

Life and careerEdit

Karoor Neelakanta Pillai was born on 22 February 22, 1898, in Ettumanoor, in Kottayam district of the south Indian state of Kerala to Kunhiliyamma and Neelakanta Pillai.[1][note 1] His formal education lasted only up to 7th standard though he was known to have been good at studies. He began his career as a school teacher at a local school in Kadappoor but quit his job when he got a government job as a teacher at the local school in Pothanikkad.[2] While on job at various places such as Ettumanoor, Vemballi and Kanakkari, he pursued his studies and passed 9th standard in 1913 as well as the teachers' training examinations.[3]

Pillai became associated with the Adhyapaka Maha Sabha (teachers' union) in 1920 and two years later, he was elected as its secretary.[1] He was involved in the teachers' meeting that discussed strike and though the matter was voted out by the meeting, the government dismissed all teachers who participated in the meeting; Pillai also lost his job. He worked as an assistant to a local ayurvedic physician at Ettumanoor till he was reinstated in his job by the government, with a posting at Namakkuzhi school. After holding the post for a while, he took long leave from job and became the secretary of Kottayam Co-operative Union. Moving to the village of Panmana, he started trading in coir products and it was in 1930, he married Gomathy Amma. When the coir industry went through a lean period during the World War II, he quit trading and returned to teaching, this time at the local school in Thazhava village.[1]

It was during this time, Pillai, along with M. P. Paul, worked towards forming a co-operative for writers and in 1945, with a capital of 120,[4] they registered the Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham (SPCS - Writers' Cooperative Society) with Paul and Pillai as the president[5] and the secretary of the society, respectively.[6] He held the position of the secretary for two decades and when he relinquished the position in 1965, the society had already made a mark in the publishing sector, with the integration of National Book Stall in 1949.[7]

He died in September 30th,1975, at the age of 77.[1]

Major worksEdit

Pillai, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer and Uroob are considered to be the preeminent storytellers in Malayalam literature.[8][9] His short stories often portray the plight of the middle class in a simple and straightforward manner.[10] Many of his stories were translated into other Indian languages and English. The short story Anakkaran (The Mahout) was translated into English by Santa Ramesvara Rao.[11][12] He wrote many stories for children and his story Anchu Kadalasu was later adapted for a film of the same name.[13] He received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story in 1960 for his short story, Mothiram.[14]

Short storiesEdit

  • Karoor Kathakal Sampoornam (complete works)[15]
  • Marappavakal (The Wooden Dolls)
  • Pathu Kadhakal (Ten Stories)
  • Thiranjedutha Kadhakal (Selected Stories)
  • Rahasyam (The Secret)
  • Ambalapparambil (In the Temple Courtyard)
  • Poovanpazham
  • Orupidimannu (A fist full of earth)
  • Meenkari (The Fisherwoman)[16]
  • Smarakom
  • Thoopukaran (The sweeper)
  • Kochanujathi (The little sister)
  • Astrologer
  • Gruhanayika (Lady of the house)
  • Pothichoru (Selected Stories)



  • Appoopan (Grandfather)

Children's literatureEdit

  • Karoorinte Balakathakal[19]
  • Anchu Kadalasu (5 papers )
  • Enne Rajavakkanam (Make Me the King)[20]
  • Aanakaran (The Mahout)[21]
  • Azhakanum Poovaliyum
  • Olayum Narayavum (The Leaf and the Stylus)
  • Bhruthyan (The Servant)
  • Manmayil


  1. ^ Karoor was the family name of his mother, obtained through matrilineal succession


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography on Kerala Sahitya Akademi portal". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Karoor Neelakanta Pillai". Nairs.com. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  3. ^ "Veethi profile". Veethi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  4. ^ "SPCS - About Us". www.spcsindia.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Remembering a visionary - Times of India". The Times of India. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  6. ^ "JStor profile". Journal of South Asian Literature. 15 (1). 26 January 2019. JSTOR 40872325.
  7. ^ Sahitya Pravarthaka Cooperative Society. Oxford University Press. 1 January 2010. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198606536.001.0001. ISBN 9780198606536. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  8. ^ Michigan State University, Asian Studies Center (1980). Journal of South Asian literature.
  9. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Devraj to Jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 1609–. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  10. ^ Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. 1993.
  11. ^ "Karoor Neelakanda Pillai on Good Reads". www.goodreads.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  12. ^ "A Bibliography of Malayalam literature in English translation". University of Washington Libraries. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Karoorinte Balakathakal on Good Reads". www.goodreads.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  15. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Karoor Kathakal Sampoornam. National Book Stall. p. 1558.
  16. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Meenkari. National Book Stall. p. 72.
  17. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Hari. Poorna Publications. ISBN 978-8130001531.
  18. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai (1972). Panjiyum Thuniyum. Poorna Publications. ISBN 9788130006680.
  19. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Karoorinte Balakathakal. National Book Stall.
  20. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Enne Rajavakkanam. National Book Stall.
  21. ^ Karur Neelakanta Pillai. Aanakkaran. National Book Stall.

External linksEdit