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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