First, The Legends of Khasak by O V Vijayan is a classic for sure. Which necessarily means that you don't read it in a jiffy, understanding everything at a go. You proceed slowly through the narrative, absorbing the scenario, and get into the mood.
And, each chapter is a story in its own right; even if you lose the book (unfortunately!) after having read it half way through, you won't feel so bad as you would if you read a general, plotty novel. You gain something with each page of reading. This novel is of that type.
It is set in a remote fictitious village, Khasak, in Kerala, some decades into the past. The author shows us various facades of the life Khasak's inhabitants. There are two communities, Hindus & Muslims. Some myths are prevalent around the founders of Khasak, which are very powerfully ruling the people's mind. Not many comforts of life are present, but the ever present alcohol is surely there, as toddy, a local drink from palm trees. The Muslims have their own legends around the settlement founder Sheikh and the Hindus have their own about their Godesses. But mixing of the two is not uncommon. Often, religious festivals are celebrated with great fervour by all, even though sometimes communal colours are seen in the village.
Ravi, the protagonist is himself not sure why he has landed in such a place as a school founder & teacher, even as he could have got better jobs at better places in the world. But he likes his job, does it well and tries his best to get the village children educated.
The novel has its share of weird characters, who are nevertheless real, and punctuate the general attitudes towards life. Reading through, you get a glimpse of the cosmic law of Karma, essentially the unending cycle of birth and death for most living entities, most & not all, because some do rise above it.
A very important point is that the novel, originally written in Malayalam, has been translated into English by the author himself, thus there are no doubts as to whether the original sense is being conveyed.
Also, the novel sheds light on the social conditions, especially of women, who get the stick for almost anything gone wrong. Maybe not much has changed from when the novel was written, and emancipation is largely a city issue, even after the various movements which were undertaken to this effect. Ravi is not the usual hero, he has his shortcomings, which make him look real and lend support to the story.
It was a new experience, especially for me who has never been to Kerala, and has made me aware of some other people's outlook on life. I think it was a good read.