Book Review: One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan
Published by: Penguin Random House
Genré: Fiction, Asian Literature, Indian Literature
My Rating: 4.5/5
All of Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child—from prayers to penance, potions to pilgrimages—have been in vain. Despite being in a loving and sexually satisfying relationship, they are relentlessly hounded by the taunts and insinuations of the people around them. Ultimately, all their hopes and apprehensions come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara and the revelry surrounding it. 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. Acutely observed, One Part Woman lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.
This was my second book by Perumal Murugan. And just like Poonachi, this was also a great read, and beautifully translated also.
This is the story of Kali and Poona, from a small village in Tamil Nadu. Even after 12 years of marriage, they have been unable to conceive till date. They have tried every ritual, visited all the possible temples, but all in vain. And as expected from an Indian society, the people around have started talking. They are making rumors and spreading around about the two. Some men have started eyeing Poona, while commenting on the manhood of Kali. At last, the two mothers have come up with plans to visit the nearby village during the famous Chariot festival where on the 18th day any man (referred as ‘god’) and woman (who is unable to conceive) can have consensual sex. But the idea is opposed by Kali. He doesn’t let Poona visit even her own parents. But the family plays trick and take Poona to the festival. Kali is finally shattered.
The book has been written in a way that shows the true face of our society. It shows how everyone is more interested in matters of others, when even their own household is going through 1000 crisis. How the society talks about couples who cannot conceive within an year of marriage. How a child is what everyone is concerned about when it comes to a married couple.
The writing was good and a flow to it. It didn’t felt like it was a translated one.
P.S.: I got to know today that there are two sequels (end) to this book: The Lonely Harvest and Trial by Silence. I’m so looking forward to read the two.