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A. Sethumadhavan
Malayalam writer Sethu.jpg
Born (1942-06-05) June 5, 1942 (age 72)
Chendamangalam, Ernakulam district, Kerala, India
Pen name Sethu
Occupation Writer, banker, Indian Meteorological Department employee
Nationality Indian
Alma mater UC College, Aluva
Period 1967–present
Genre Novel, short story, essays

A. Sethumadhavan (born 5 June 1942), popularly known as Sethu, is a Malayalam fiction writer. He has published more than 30 books.[1] He won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 2007 for the work Adayalangal. He received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Awards in 1982 and 1978 for his works Pandavapuram and Pediswapnangal; and Vayalar Award for Adyalangal in 2005.[2] Sethu's other literary works include Velutha Koodarangal, Thaliyola, Kiratham, Niyogam, Sethuvinte Kathakal and Kaimudrakal. He also served as the chairman and CEO of the South Indian Bank.[3]


Sethu was born in Chendamangalam, a village in Ernakulam district, in the year 1942. He had his school education at Paliam High School, Chendamangalam, and took his Bachelors’ Degree in Physics from the Union Christian College, Aluva, at the age of 18.

Sethu began his professional career at a very young age taking him to various parts of the country. This phase of his life was instrumental in shaping his literary sensibilities and came to be reflected in many of his important works.

He worked in certain Central Government departments in North India before joining the Indian Meteorological Department in Bombay in 1962. In 1964 he took a transfer to Trivandrum and worked in the Meteorological Unit of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station. Subsequently he was promoted and posted to the newly established Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. Then he worked in Railway Board, New Delhi for a couple of years before switching over to the banking industry in 1968. He joined the banking profession as a Probationary Officer in the State Bank Group. After holding many important positions in the Group, he took over as General Manager in the Corporation Bank and later as the Chairman of the South Indian Bank, a major private sector bank of the country. He served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SIB from 1999 until his retirement in 2005. He was also on the board of the State Bank of Travancore for a period of three years after his retirement.

Widely travelled, he had attended many international conferences both on banking and literature in various countries.

In 2012 September, he replaced eminent historian Bipan Chandra to become the chairman of National Book Trust, New Delhi.[4] In 2015 March, the National Democratic Alliance government removed him from the post in a most ignominious manner, six months before his tenure was due to end.[5] Sethu was replaced by Badaldev Sharma, former editor of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya.[6]


He had written his first short story in the cramped attic of a Karol Bagh house in Delhi in the year 1967. He says, "It [the story] was about the severe droughts in Bihar; after a visit to the worst-hit areas and scenes of human suffering I wrote the story without knowing anything about the craft of writing and it was published in the Mathrubhumi magazine by its legendary editor and writer M. T. Vasudevan Nair."[7]

Sethu, is one of the pioneers of modern Malayalam fiction who brought about a radical transformation of sensibility through his writings during the sixties and early seventies. In a literary career spanning over four and half decades, Sethu wrote over 18 novels and 20 collections of short stories. Many of his novels and stories have been translated into English and other Indian languages. His prominent works include Pandavapuram, Niyogam, Kaimudrakal, Vilayattam, Atayalangal, Kilimozhikalkkappuram, Marupiravi and Aliya (Novels), Petiswapnangal, Doothu, Chilakalangalil Chila Gayathrimar, Arundhathiyute Virunnukaran and Sethuvinte Kathakal (Short stories), and Sanidasa, Yathrakidayil (Essays).

Sethu has been honoured with many awards including the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for both novel and short story, Vayalar Award, Odakkuzhal Award and Muttathu Varkey Award. Four of his works have been made into films including the much acclaimed Pandavapuram, which was also made into Bengali titled Nirakar Chhaya. His latest work is Aliya (2013), one of the path-breaking novels in Malayalam.



  • Njangal Adimakal (ഞങ്ങൾ അടിമകൾ)
  • Ariyatha Vazhikal (അറിയാത്ത വഴികൾ)
  • Kiratham (കിരാതം)
  • Thaliyola (താളിയോല)
  • Pandavapuram (പാണ്ഡവപുരം)
  • Niyogam (നിയോഗം)
  • Navagrahangalude Thatavara (നവഗ്രഹങ്ങളുടെ തടവറ) (with Punathil Kunjabdulla)
  • Vanavasam (വനവാസം)
  • Vilayattom (വിളയാട്ടം)
  • Ezham Pakkam (ഏഴാം പക്കം)
  • Kaimudrakal (കൈമുദ്രകൾ)
  • Kaiyoppum Kaivazhikalum (കൈയൊപ്പും കൈവഴികളും)
  • Atayalangal
  • Kilimozhikalkkappuram
  • Marupiravi (മറുപിറവി)
  • Aaliya (ആലിയ)

Short story[edit]

  • Thinkalazhchakalile Aakasam (തിങ്കളാഴ്ചകളിലെ ആകാശം)
  • Velutha Koodarangal (വെളുത്ത കൂടാരങ്ങൾ)
  • Aswinathile Pookkal (ആശ്വിനത്തിലെ പൂക്കൾ)
  • Prakasathinte Uravidom (പ്രകാശത്തിന്റെ ഉറവിടം)
  • Pampum Koniyum (പാമ്പും കോണിയും)
  • Pediswapnangal (പേടിസ്വപ്നങ്ങൾ)
  • Arundhatiyude Virunnukaran (അരുന്ധതിയുടെ വിരുന്നുകാരൻ)
  • Doothu (ദൂത്)
  • Guru (ഗുരു)
  • Prahelika Kantam (പ്രഹേളികാകാണ്ഡം)



  1. ^ "Recreating Muziris". The Hindu. 6 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Malayalam writer Sethumadhavan wins Vayalar Award". Silicon India. 9 October 2006. 
  3. ^ "Writers never retire, says Sethu". The Hindu. 28 May 2005. 
  4. ^ "Sethu appointed National Book Trust chairman". Madhyamam. September 6, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  5. ^ "Sethu removed as National Book Trust chairman". Malayala Manorama. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Baldev Sharma appointed as chairman of National Book Trust". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  7. ^ "How story-telling is trumping over political analysis". New Delhi: The Economic Times. Press Trust of India. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sethu_(writer) — Please support Wikipedia.
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4 news items

The Hindu

The Hindu
Fri, 06 Dec 2013 05:30:00 -0800

For the last 45 years, A. Sethumadhavan has been living two lives — one during office hours, and the other between 4 a.m. and daybreak. Where one ends, the other begins. Only Sethu, the successful banker and the prolific writer, can explain this rare ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Wed, 27 Nov 2013 04:33:45 -0800

In the Seventies, Sethu, along with contemporaries such as Vijayan, Kakkanadan, Zachariah and Mukundan rode the crest of the wave of modernism in Malayalam fiction. Beginning with Njangal Adimakal in 1972 to his latest work Aliya, his works have ...
The Hindu
Thu, 03 Nov 2011 23:48:55 -0700

Novelists who take the untrodden path in writing may not get noticed during their time, but they are the ones who influence and inspire the future, writer Sethu has said. Inaugurating an evening on the 'New paths of Malayalam novel' as part of the ...
The Hindu
Sat, 06 Aug 2011 06:34:59 -0700

A. Sethumadhavan (Sethu)'s brilliant literary career spans over a period of 40 years. He has published more than 30 books of fiction. He has bagged many prestigious literary awards including that of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi. A few of his books have ...

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