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The Goat Thief Hardcover – 8 Nov 2017
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About the Author
A master storyteller, Perumal Murugan has written award-winning novels, short stories and poems. He is also a scholar of classical Tamil and a beloved teacher. His best-known work is the novel Maadorubagan (One Part Woman) that attracted fierce controversy along with immense acclaim.
About the translator:* N. Kalyan Raman has translated some of the finest and most exciting Tamil writers ranging from Ashokamitran and Salma to Devibharati and Perumal Murugan.
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The author, sets up the entire scene in front of us, in a very vivid form yet not attaching his own emotions, his own thoughts or conclusions to it. That makes the stories even more rich and engaging. Another remarkable aspect of his stories is the fact that all his central characters are utterly alone (though not lonely in all cases). What happens to them in that precarious situation forms the narrative thread in each story. However, since there were both stories with a hidden message, as well as stories with more of a magical realism aspect to it, maybe dividing the stories into two sections would make it more meaningful.
Needless to say, N. Kalyan Raman, has done an excellent job bringing these stories to life in English, and yet maintaining a sense of originality. It was a wholesome read overall.
I'm not all that familiar with translated literature, but if they are anywhere as good as this one, sign me up! What's refreshing about this collection of short stories is that they concern the most random of things like salt shaker, toilet bowls, tumblers, wells, chairs etc. and yet there's something so captivating about the narration. You can't help but be in awe of how realistically basic human sentiments are unearthed by such ordinary events. As far as the form goes, there's very little dialogue in all of these short stories. But that didn't deter me, because the narrative was so reminiscent of several quirks and attributes unique to Indians. Two of my favourite stories are An Unexpected Visitor and The Well. Another factor that I simply LOVED about this book is that the stories have ambiguous or abrupt endings. And you can't even see it coming. All in all, this collection is a quick read; appealing to those who enjoy stories that challenge the norms of possibility and bring out the endearing quality of companionship. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so, I urge you to pick it up!
What do you get out of it? A microscopic glimpse at the lives of individuals from different backgrounds, the little things that keep them going.
Thank you Juggernaut for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
‘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.