Madhavan is a Malayalam writer of short fiction and novel, a columnist and football and travel writer.
The Kochi-born Madhavan began writing during his college days while doing his Masters in economics by winning top prize for his short story ‘Sisu’, in a contest organised by the Malayalam literary magazine Mathrubhumi.
His first story collection, ‘Choolaimede Savangal’ (Corpses of Choolaimedu) was published in 1981. Thereafter he lapsed into a decade long silence. His come-back story in 1991 was hugely successful and critically acclaimed ‘Higuita’ .. The story weaves around the unconventional playing style of the eponymous Colombian goalkeeper for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
Since then he has published four more collections of stories, a novel, a collection of plays, a collection of travelogues and a book of literary criticism.
Some of his stories like ‘Thiruthu’ (The Correction; on Babri Masjid demolition), ‘Van Marangal Veezhumpol’ (When Big Trees Fall; on the 1984 Sikh Riots) etc. are widely read and discussed for their “sharp political content and literary finesse.”
His only novel ‘Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal’ came out in 2003 traces the story on the life of the Latin Christians of coastal Kerala. The novel’s English translation ‘Litanies of Dutch Battery’ came out in 2010 and subsequently won the Crossword award for Best Indian Fiction in translation.
Madhavan also enjoys a wide readership for his non-fiction writing; some examples of which are his coverages of FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Cuba immediately after Fidel Castro and the Bihar and Bengal elections in 2015.
In 1975, he joined the Indian Administrative Service and was seconded to the Bihar cadre. After long tenure in civil service, Madhavan presently lives in Kochi.