The goat thief is a compilation of 10 short stories by the renowned Tamil writer, Perumal Murugan. The stories speak of the untold and possibly not many writers have much thought of these topics before. The tales range from: A lonely night watchman, who falls in love with the ghost of a rape victim, to that of a terrified young goat thief who suddenly finds himself surrounded by a mob baying for his blood, or that of an old peasant exhausted by a lifetime labour is consumed by jealousy and driven to an act of total destruction. Set in the landscape of rural Tamil Nadu, these tales illuminate the extraordinary acts that make up everyday lives. 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.
Famed Tamilian writer, Perumal Murugan's 10 short stories have been compiled into this volume called The Goat Thief. Steeped in cultural nuances and throwing light on the simplicities of life, the stories draw our attention towards the very nature of humanity; be it seeking company or obsessing over ordinary objects. Some of these tales are testament to the hardships that people from lower tiers of society undergo. And by imbuing common occurrences with an almost surreal quality, this book digs its talons deep into the psyche of the reader. In Mirror of Innocence and Musical Chairs, you'll read about household objects that grow to mean something different to certain inhabitants. Whereas, The Well and Sanctuary are two stories that hauntingly convey how the protagonist loses himself in the depths of a well.
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.
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.
"The Goat Thief" is a collection of ten translated short stories (originally written in Tamil language) set up in the outskirts of Tamil Nadu (A state in India). All plots are based on ordinary people's day-to-day life. A reader may connect with each tale in one way or the other, since it mostly deals with raw human emotions. The book received the title from a short story in it. Subtleness in storytelling included more intriguing factors to the stories. I was astonished by each tale that the author had weaved from trifle incidents in one's life. Could you barely imagine an enthralling tale based on human faeces!!!. If you can't, then devour this book. Some stories have hypothetical endings, and one can expect the unexpected. A couple of stories portrays same context and content, which I found a bit boring and repetitive. Readers can get an outlook of Tamil Nadu's landscape, culture and their food as well. It's an easy read and if you are fascinated in light-hearted stories, then I would recommend this.