Post-modernism in the West is primarily an engagement with form, but in Malayalam, besides its subversion of form, novelists and poets appear to be reinstating some of the irrationalities and beliefs that modernism worked so hard to get rid of. In many ways, this trend is an extension of social post-modernity. The persistence of caste consciousness, the puzzling co-existence of tribalism and individualism, the rise of consumerism and liberalization of capitalist enterprise, the rise of religious fundamentalism, the decline of the Left, and various anxieties about the future of modernity and nationality (all these are seen from the region, from Kerala's peripheral position) are factors that are yet to be played out fully. However, the immediate course for post-modernist writing has been the habitualization of modern literary forms (socialist realism). Among the more profound cultural reasons we can include the general breakdown of idealism, the excesses of political organizations (Marxist Party, the Naxalites), and the rise of communal and fascist organizations.
With the death of Sankara Kurup, Idassery, and Kunjiraman Nair, what was known initially as a strange generation of "ultra-moderns" came to take Malayalam poetry in a new direction. They were actually the post-moderns, and their landmark publication was Ayyappa Paniker's long poem Kuruskhetra (1961). With its echoes of 'The Waste Land' and The Bhagavad Gita, this long poem gathers together varied strands of Indian post-modernity. The East and the West merge in this era of late capitalism; poverty lingers; revolution has failed; no certainties are left to offer the people solace, not even the old tribal rhythms, because modernity has disturbed them. Paniker's poem voices the sense of guilt and terror an individual has to bear with living in an unbounded historical moment in which, according to Paniker, the World Bank becomes the custodian of truth.
In spite of the wide difference in terms of their age, the post-modernist poets like Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan, M. Govindan, A. Ayyappan, O. V. Usha, Satchidanandan, Balachandran Chullikkad, Chemmanam Chacko, Cherian K. Cherian, N. N. Kakkad, Madhavan Ayyppath, K. G. Sankara Pillai, Vinayachandran, and three dozen other poets have created a sustained poetic culture in Kerala. Some of these poets have also brought poetry into the public culture through street performances and campus readings, ushering in a new golden age of poetry.
The category postmodernists encompass a large number of poets, novelists, short story writers, critics, and historians. Among the most significant fiction writers who are making lasting contributions are Madhavikutty (Manasi), Anand (Alkoottam, Marana Certificate, Marubhmikal Vndavunnathu Engane), Sethu (Pandava Puram), Punathil Kunjabdulla (Smaraka Shilakal, Marunnu), Kakanadan (Ushna Mekhala, Parankimala, Aru-deyo Oru Nagaram), M. Mukundan (Mayyazhippuzhayude Thirangalil, Elokam Athil Orun Manushyari), Padmarajan (Nakshatrangale Kaval), M. P. Narayana Pillai (Parinamam), V. K. N. (Pithamahan and Payyan Kathakal), C. V. Balakrishnan (Ayusinte Pusthakam), Gracy (Padiyirangippoya Parvathi), Sarah Joseph (Papathara), U. A. Khader (Khuraissikoottam), and K. L. Mohana Varma (Nakshatrangalu.de Thadavukari). A list of important emerging writers to watch for in the years to come includes Nalini Bakal, Unnikrishnan Thiruvazhyodu, Madambu Kunhikuttan, K. B. Sridevi, M. D. Ratnamma, Sarah Thomas, T. V. Kochubava, Harikumar, N. S. Madhavan, V. G. Maramuttam, U. K. Kumaran, Jayanarayanan, C. V. Sreeraman, Ipe Paramel, P. T. Rajalakshmi, Thomas Joseph, K. P. Nirmal Kumar, and Joseph Vytilla.
Thus post-modernism in Malayalam literature did the immense work of bringing Malayalam literature onto the world stage. Works that were initially regionalized now got propelled into wider regions thus earning it a bigger audience and greater acceptability.