12 May, 2021

Grime In The Factory

In this intricately plotted novel, Benyamin trods familiar territory—the Malayali Gulf experience. Freedom and rights issues get prominence through flawed characters and a few weak joints.

Grime In The Factory

For over half a century, the ‘Gulf’ has been El Dorado for South Asians, particularly Malayalis. As the narrator in Al Arabian Novel Factory reflects, “God blesses some small Arab country with petrol dollars. And then a tiny sliver of land...gets to enjoy...those blessings…. There was a long and lonely road between the two lands, and it could tell many stories of sacrifice.”

It is these stories of toil, humiliation, deprivation, loneliness, despair and alienation of the ‘Gulf Malayali’, and the wider immigrant community, that Benny Daniel—who writes as Benyamin—chronicles in his writing.

There have been books and films on the Gulf immigrant experience in Malayalam. But few capture granular details of immigrant life with authenticity. It’s these details that Benyamin writes about with authority, perhaps because he was himself a Gulf Malayali for over two decades.

Benyamin explores a world familiar to Kerala, but also alien, especially its darker side. Starting with his award-winning...

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