Netgalley Purge 5: One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan | Book Review

One Part Woman by Perumal MuruganAniruddhan Vasudevan (Translation) is a unique spin on the time-worn story of a couple dealing with childlessness in a traditional society where so much of their existence and future is dependent on producing an heir. In this story, Kali and his wife Poona have been married for about twelve years and in that time, they have tried a myriad of natural and supernatural remedies but with no success. But what is particularly endearing about the story of Kali and Poona are their reactions to their fate. As middle-caste Indian farmers, Kali planted a portia tree on his in-laws property in the first year of his marriage and the dense foliage, fragrant flowers and inviting shade and comfort the plant brings is in distinct contrast to the infertility marriage. Yet, despite his and Poona’s wild success with this and other agrarian plots, the animals they raise in a barn that everyone in their community admires, it is not enough to quiet the wagging tongues that unleash snide comments and mocking insults, blaming Kali for his impotence and Poona for her barrenness. Yet, Poona’s caustic retorts are laughable as she internalizes her anxiety and fear and moves with desperation toward any possible solution but simultaneously refuses to allow the underhanded comments to go unanswered, besting the women who would mock her and them even to tears. 

Since this is a translated novel and an ARC at that, I am not sure whether my comments about the circular storytelling is even a fair critique so I will reserve for later any discussion about the way new characters were introduced with a backstory that tended to wander before everything reconnected with the main plot. Otherwise, I certainly enjoyed this story and the uniqueness of the perspective about what it means to grow and produce, even what you didn’t intend.

4 stars for this novel and this is one that I hope you read and enjoy as much as I did!

Book details

  • Title: One Part Woman
  • Author: Perumal Murugan
  • Original Language: Tamil
  • Translator: Aniruddhan Vasudevan
  • Pages: 288

Netgalley and the publishers Grove Atlantic Press provided me with an electronic Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I tried to share above. I fully recommend this novel, especially for readers who enjoyed Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, which also explored the social stigma experienced by childless couples and the lengths they might go through to avoid or escape such a fate.



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