The son of an illiterate soda-pop vendor from small-town South India, he had limited his visit to the capital to 48 hours, and this appeared to be 46 hours too long. He prefers to sleep on a rope cot, under the stars, the way they do in the village, and has never owned a pair of shoes that were not sandals. Leaving an interview with the talk show host Barkha Dutt, who is Oprah Winfrey-league famous in India, he turned to the man escorting him and asked, politely, who she was.
Mr. Murugan had come to declare his return as a writer following a long spell of darkness. After undergoing a vicious attack by caste leaders in his home state of Tamil Nadu, his novel “One Part Woman” last month was the subject of a landmark court decision defending the right of artists to critically depict their own communities. Recent interest in Mr. Murugan’s work has exploded, with five novels coming out, translated into English from the original Tamil.