Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's "Chemmeen" is the narrative of the fishermen community. Though basically a love story, the novel delves deep into the lives of the fisher folk, their way of life, customs, beliefs and superstitions.
This gripping love story was translated into 30 languages and is the first "bestseller" in the country, according to writer and literary critic Santha Rama Rau.
The book is about the relation between Karuthamma, daughter of a poor Hindu fisherman, and Pereekkutty, son of a Muslim fish dealer. The theme of the tragic story is woven around a myth, popular among the fishermen community.
An inter-religious love affair, intriguing narration of myths and beliefs made Thakazhi's work an instant hit.
It won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1957. In 1965, Ramu Kariat brought out a film version. The film won critical acclaim and went on to win the President's Gold Medal for best film of the year. The film was dubbed to Hindi and English as well.