16 December, 2017

#BookReview :: The Goat Thief by Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan is one of the best Indian writers today. He trains his unsentimental eye on men and women who live in the margins of our society. He tells their stories with deep sympathy and calm clarity. A lonely night watchman falls in love with the ghost of a rape victim. A terrified young goat thief finds himself surrounded by a mob baying for his blood. An old peasant exhausted by a lifetime of labour is consumed by jealousy and driven to an act of total destruction. Set in the arid Kongu landscape of rural Tamil Nadu, these tales illuminate the extraordinary acts that make up everyday lives.

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I absolutely loved this eclectic collection of ten short stories.

‘The Well’ is the opening story with an unexpected turn. It is a very ‘well’-constructed story that sets the mood of the readers to expect the unexpected. After that set up, the nine other stories continue to engage the readers in different ways. Some stories warm your heart, some stories are eccentric in a good way and some stories simply blows your mind with its simplicity. My favourite story in the book is ‘An Unexpected Visitor’ where the relationship between a young boy and his ‘Paati’ was really endearing.

Each story is different and has something different to offer to the readers. Yet there is a common thread linking them all. The stories are based on the simplest things in life and the nuances of human relationships. I had to often stop and contemplate how the author has managed to capture the things we tend to overlook in our modern and fast paced lives. The smallest things that can make big differences; a well or a chair or the loneliness of a housewife or a cornered goat thief or a night watchman desperate for company. The depth of relationships and emotions captured in the stories just amazed me.

I have not read the stories in their original form. But the way they managed to tug my heartstrings clearly indicates that N. Kalyan Raman has done a good job with the translation. For those of you who can read Tamil, these stories must be a complete treat!

I recommend this book to all matured readers, who like stories that makes them think and like to savour quality literature the way they are meant to be.

Review Copy received from Juggernaut

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