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Book Review: Perumal Murugan’s ‘Current Show’ is a novel about the uncertainties the young feel

By Anjana Balakrishnan

current showThere is a scene in the television series Breaking Bad where brother-in-law cop Schrader is brewing beer in his garage. I knew right away that he would hurt himself while capping the bottles. Because Perumal Murugan wrote about the dangers of bottling soda in his book Pyre. The spell Murugan casts gives me the ability to consider the realities of his characters as my own, though it is far removed from my reality.

Who knew that there was joy in the glint of a soda bottle well-washed or the artful perfection of bottling soda until Murugan told us so? In Current Show, he made bile rise to my mouth with similar ease as he describes the theatre grounds squishy with stale urine. When he talks about the crowds for an MGR movie, I could feel the stickiness of sweat against my clothes and the push and shove of being in that crowd.

Sathivel is a poor, young soda seller at an old theatre past its prime. He sells colour soda during the interval and spends his free time with the other theatre boys, doing odd jobs or smoking ganja. Including their next meal, there are few certainties in life for the boys to rely on. Sathi’s friendship with Natesan is one of his certainties. They look out for each other, sharing food and cigarette butts. These boys are willing to get into fights, steal slippers off cine-goers, sell tickets in black and to do the bidding of anyone who will give them money, food or drugs. This is where we begin to see how poverty changes their worldview. Read more

Source: The News Minute


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Book Review: Perumal Murugan’s ‘Pyre’, may its heat singe some sense into you!

By Anjana Balakrishnan

Perumal Murugan’s fiction has the enchanting ability to fill you with dread. To all appearances, his stories are straightforward and simple. But a couple of pages in, you start feeling the robust muscle of society coiling around your neck in a chokehold. Over the next hundred or so pages you find yourself sitting upright in your chair, bed or floor, willing yourself to read as fast you can while simultaneously hoping never to get to the end of the story.

What makes his writing even more chilling is the knowledge that this story could be true in thousands of villages in India, however removed you are from them. Why villages alone? These stories of caste brutalities could be true in a majority of families in India.

Originally written in Tamil as Pookkuzhi (2013), and translated into English in 2016 by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Pyre is Kumaresan and Saroja’s love story laced with the poison of caste. Read more

Source: The News Minute


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India: Bangalore Literature Festival 2016: exploring sexuality in Indian literature

The Indian prudishness towards sexuality is often blamed on Victorian mores, but economist author Gurucharan Das, presently working on a fictional memoir Kama argued that the prudishness pre-dated Victorian age by many centuries. He was speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival on Sunday.

“The beginning of Rig Veda starts with desire (kama) of the maker to create. But why did we become prudish? Like Vatsayana who wrote the Kama Sutra, there were many Kama Optimists, but early on there were the renouncers, ascetics, the Kama pessimists. We did have two parallel strands. The Kama Pessimists were threatened by desire that is uncontrollable. There was then a compromise between the two camps and the compromise was that sex was acceptable as long as it was within marriage. Then came Manu, who wrote one of the Dharma Shastras that blamed the woman for Kama, pushing us into this prudishness,” argued Gurucharan Das. He also added the creation of characters like Sita and Savitri were done to rein in the women. “If Dharma is one’s duty to another, Kama is duty to oneself,” he added. Read more

Source: The Hindu