Perumal Murugan’s novel ‘Pookkuzhi’, also known as ‘Pyre’ in English, has been nominated for the International Booker Prize 2023 longlist. The book has made history by becoming the first Tamil novel to receive this recognition. The novel is set in rural Tamil Nadu during the 1980s and explores caste-based violence through the elopement of a young inter-caste couple.
Exploring Caste-Based Violence in Rural Tamil Nadu
Murugan, the author of ‘Pookkuzhi’, is a well-known novelist and professor of Tamil literature. He has written extensively on the everyday lives of Tamil rural folk, their traditions and social hierarchies. Through his works, Murugan has critiqued the caste system and how it operates through oppression and violence.
In ‘Pookkuzhi’, Murugan explores the theme of caste-based violence that still exists in many parts of rural India. The story follows a young couple from different castes who elope to escape the wrath of their families. However, their attempts to find a peaceful life together are met with violence and brutality from those who cannot accept the idea of inter-caste marriage.
Backlash from Conservative Sections of Society
Murugan’s work has often invited backlash from conservative sections of society. His novel ‘Mathorubhagan’ faced severe protests from right-wing groups like the RSS. The protests were so intense that Murugan even posted on Facebook, “Author Perumal Murugan is dead.”
Despite the protests, the Madras High Court dismissed all criminal cases filed against Murugan by caste groups. In 2017, ‘One Part Woman’, another one of Murugan’s novels, won the Sahitya Akademi’s Translation prize.
Category: Awards, Honours & Persons in News