A landmark novel that dared to questioned the dark practices and the subjugation women in the Namboothiri community undergo in their homes, Agnisakshi written by Lalithambika Antharjanam remains one among the most celebrated works in Malayalam literature.
The novel chronicles the struggles of a progressive Namboothiri (Brahmin) woman when she gets married to a highly conservative family. The plot revolves around Thettikutty and her trials and tribulations in the highly misogynist Namboodiri illoms (houses) and her journey towards liberation. The novel depicts her transformation into a revolutionary and later on her resigned life in an ashram.
Other main characters include Thankam Nair and Unni Namboodiri, Thettikutty’s husband. The novelist has captured with much clarity the social structure prevalent in Kerala in those times. The characters, unique narration and the spectacularly crafted plot makes for a compelling read. The narration technique used in the novel is unique and the wordplay requires special mention. The unconventional storytelling employed in the book makes it a literary gem.
Considered a classic in Malayalam literature, the novel was published by Current Books in 1976.The novel also received the prestigious Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award (1977) and Kerala Sahitya Akademi (1977) Award. It also received the Odakkuzhal (1977) and Vayalar Award (1977). The novel has been translated to English by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan. This was the sole novel by Lalithambika Antharjanam who has penned many a short stories and poem.