The literary form called novel, which is a sequential fictional narrative, originated in Malayalam in the beginning of the 19th century. The first Malayalam novel, which can be described as the prototype of the modern novel, is Indulekha, published in 1889. Between 1847 and 1887, 12 narrative works appeared in Malayalam, but none of them fully fitted the definition of a novel. They are listed below:
- Paradeshi Mokshayatra – A translation of the book ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ written by John Bunyan. Translated into Malayalam by Archdeacon Koshy (1847).
- Sanchariyute Prayanam – A translation of the book ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ written by John Bunyan. Translated into Malayalam by C. Muller
- Bhasha Sakunthalam – A prose translation of Kalidasa’s ‘Sakunthalam’ by Thiruvithamkoor Ayilyam Thirunal Ramavarma.
- Meenakethan – A work by Thiruvithamkoor Ayilyam Thirunal Ramavarma based on an Arabian Night story.
- Thiru Porattam – A translation of the book ‘The Holy War’ written by John Bunyan. Translated into Malayalam by Archdeacon Koshy (1865).
- Aalmarattam – A prose translation of Shakespeare’s play ‘Comedy of Errors’ by Kalloor Umman Philipose (1860).
- Khathaka Vadham – A translation of Rev. Richard Collin’s work ‘Slayer Slain’ by Frances Richard Collins and Rev. Richard Collins (1872).
- Pullelikunchu – Written by Archdeacon Koshy (1822).
- Kamakshee Charitham – Written by K. Chidambara Vadhyar based on Charles Lamb’s ‘Tales from Shakespeare.’
- Varsha Kala Katha – Catherine Mullins
- Kundalatha – Written by Appu Nedungadi (1887)
The early Malayalam fictional works that fully satisfy the requirements of a novel are Odayil Ninnu, Bhranthalayam, Ayalkkar, Mathru Hridayam, Oru Rathri, Kunhukkuruppinte Atmakatha, Nadi, Aarkku Vendi, Ulakka, Kannadi, Sakhavu Karottu Karanavar, Premaviddi Engottu, Pankalakshiyude Diary, Tyagiyaya Drohi , Adhikaram, and Sukhikkan Vendi.