One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasedevan [in Library Journal]
In many ways, Kali and Ponna’s lives couldn’t be more fertile. Their fields and their cows keep them well nourished. Their playfulness and passion feed their souls. But after 12 years of marriage, they remain childless, leaving the couple helpless against the disdain disguised as concern they receive from their judgmental South Indian Tamil community. Desperate for conception, Ponna’s family pushes her to partake in an upcoming annual festival in which single men become gods ready to service infertile women. Tragedy proves inevitable.
Although a cult phenomenon in India, this work’s success had near-fatal consequences for Perumal Murugan, who was viciously derided and sued, his books burnt for the revealing glimpse into his village culture. Only when he won “a landmark court decision defending the right of artists to critically depict their own communities” did he write again.
Lauded translator Aniruddhan Vasudevan has not been without controversy either, having even declined a major translation award. With a backstory as fascinating as the narrative, this intriguing work, long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature, will undoubtedly be appreciated by internationally savvy Anglophone audiences.
Published: 2010 (India), 2018 (United States)