Matira Manisha (‘The Man of the Soil’) is one of those uncommon artistic creations which prove that good art does not have to be convoluted or obscure. The novel’s enduring appeal lies in its very starkness. It is the story of an Odia peasant family whose simple joys and sorrows are bound up with the soil. Baraju Padhan, who becomes the head of the family after the death of his father, Shaama Padhan, inherits his humanism and is committed to the traditions and ideals of joint family existence, but his younger brother, Chhakadi, instigated by his wife Netramani, is determined to split up vthe home.
The book is remarkable not only for its depiction of enduring human values but also for its realistic portrayal of the culture of rural Odisha. The language of the novel is a bold attempt at capturing the idiom of the people whose life it presents. Matira Manisha lies close to the hearts of Odia society, and has been made into an award-winning Odia film by Mrinal Sen.