Valli - Sheela Tomy
*Goodreads rating 4.2*
*Shorlisted for the JCB PRIZE 2022*
Author: Sheela Tomy
High in the Western Ghats in northern Kerala is a land of mist and mystery, of forests and folklore, rich with the culture of its indigenous people, the Adivasis. Its old name was Bayalnad – land of the paddy fields – but it would come to be known as Wayanad.
Its resources attracted outsiders – traders, colonialists, migrants from the lowlands, and eventually, the timber and tourist industries. Exploitation of the forest led to the exploitation and enslavement of its people, and as the forest dwindled, so did the Adivasis’ culture, their way of life, even their language. But these were not changes quietly and willingly accepted; Wayanad became a key centre of direct action and uprising, and a stronghold for the Naxalite movement.
Spanning the time between the 1970s and the present, Valli is a tale of four generations who made this land their home. It is told through a diary that Susan – the daughter of two teachers, Thommichan and Sara, who eloped to Wayanad so that they could live together – leaves for her own daughter, Tessa.
And in telling their story, Valli tells us stories of the land and its people, of interdependence and abuse, repression and resistance, despair and contentment – stories as vast and magical as the forest itself once was.