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What to read as an introduction to Perumal Murugan’s work

Perumal Murugan’s body of work boasts of several novels, short story collections and poetry anthologies. An author and scholar, Murugan writes in Tamil. His works have not only garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success but also have been translated in many languages.

Here are 6 books by him, that are the perfect introduction to his work.


Rising Heat


Rising Heat || Perumal Murugan

Murugan’s first novel, which launched a splendid literary career, is a tour de force. Now translated for the first time, it poses powerful questions about the human cost of relentless urbanization in the name of progress.

Young Selvan’s family’s ancestral land has been sold in order to make way for the construction of a housing colony. In the ensuing years, as the pressures of their situation simmer to a boil, Selvan observes his family undergo dramatic shifts in their fortunes as greed and jealousy threaten to overshadow their lives.


One Part Woman


One Part Woman || Perumal Murugan

Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child have been in vain. Hounded by the taunts and insinuations of others, all their hopes come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of Ardhanareeswara, the half-female god. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple’s suffering and humiliation. But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test.


Songs of a Coward: Poems of Exile


Songs of a Coward || Perumal Murugan

By turns passionate, elegiac, angry, tender, nightmarish and courageous, the poems in Songs of a Coward weave an exquisite tapestry of rich images and turbulent emotions. Written during a period of immense personal turmoil, these verses are an enduring testament to the resilience of an imagination under siege and the liberating power of words in one’s darkest moments.


Trial by Silence


Trial by Silence || Perumal Murugan

In Trial by Silence-one of two inventive sequels that picks up the story right where One Part Womanends-Kali is determined to punish Ponna for what he believes is an absolute betrayal. But Ponna is equally upset at being forced to atone for something that was not her fault. In the wake of the temple festival, both must now confront harsh new uncertainties in their once idyllic life together.

Trial by Silence was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Fiction 2019


A Lonely Harvest


A Lonely Heart || Perumal Murugan

In A Lonely Harvest– one of two inventive sequels that pick up the story right where One Part Woman ends -Ponna returns from the temple festival to find that Kali has killed himself in despair. Devastated that he would punish her so cruelly, but constantly haunted by memories of the happiness she once shared with Kali, Ponna must now learn to face the world alone.

A Lonely Harvest was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 and shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Fiction 2019


Current Show


Current Show || Perumal Murugan

Slick, visceral and startlingly inventive, Current Show unfolds in a manner that simulates rapid cinematic cuts. Murugan’s keen eye and crackling prose plumb the dark underbelly of small-town life, bringing Sathi’s world and entanglements thrillingly to life.


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