2018 National Book Award Longlist, Translated Literature

Perumal Murugan

One Part Woman, by Perumal Murugan.  Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
One Part Woman
by Perumal Murugan
Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
(Black Cat / Grove Atlantic)
ISBN: 9780802128805

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

Set in South India during the British colonial period but with powerful resonance to the present day, One Part Woman tells the story of a couple, Kali and Ponna, who are unable to conceive, much to the concern of their families—and the crowing amusement of Kali’s male friends. Kali and Ponna try anything to have a child, including making offerings at different temples, atoning for past misdeeds of dead family members, and even circumambulating a mountain supposed to cure barren women, but all to no avail.

A more radical plan is required, and the annual chariot festival, a celebration of the god Maadhorubaagan, who is one part woman, one part man, may provide the answer. On the eighteenth night of the festival, the festivities culminate in a carnival, and on that night the rules of marriage are suspended, and consensual sex between any man and woman is permitted. The festival may be the solution to Kali and Ponna’s problem, but it soon threatens to drive the couple apart as much as to bring them together. Wryly amusing, fable-like, and deeply poignant, One Part Woman is a powerful exploration of a loving marriage strained by the expectations of others, and an attack on the rigid rules of caste and tradition that continue to constrict opportunity and happiness today.

About the Author

Perumal Murugan is a prominent figure of contemporary Tamil literature. He has written six novels and four collections each of short stories and poetry. His best-known novel One Part Woman won the prestigious ILF Samanvay Bhasha Samman for writing in Indian languages and, for the English translation, the Translation Prize from India’s National Academy of Letters.


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