One Part Woman
Publisher: Black Cat
Perumal Murugan is the star of contemporary Tamil literature, having garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success for his work. One Part Woman sold 100,000 copies in India, and Grove’s edition will be his American debut. One Part Woman deals with questions of gender, caste, and ethnicity, offering a view into South Indian life and society. The novel sparked controversy in India as the plot centers around a festival that celebrates the half-female half-male god Maadhorubaaghan (from whose name the novel gets its title)—on the eighteenth night of the festival, men and women are allowed to sleep with people other than their husbands or wives. The couple’s mothers decide that this might be the solution to their children’s fertility problems. The depiction of this rite (which still goes on in Southern India today) led to calls to ban the book from certain circles, and led to Murugan’s being dubbed “the Tamil Irvine Welsh” by the Guardian. But the Madras High Court upheld Murugan’s right to free speech and he continues to have a very high profile in India, regularly speaking at festivals and commenting on contemporary matters from folklore to politics. The New York Times introduced Murugan to American readers with a glowing profile in summer 2016, declaring him “a major Indian writer . . . neither sentimental nor harsh,” but no work of Murugan’s has ever been published in the United States or UK, only within India. Very few works by contemporary Indian writers, especially those not writing in English, are published in the U.S. and we expect reviewers and booksellers to support this book and writer. Murugan plans to visit the U.S. in connection with the book for select events in New York and elsewhere TBC and will be available for interview. For readers of Ghachar Ghochar and those who enjoyed Kiran Desai’s Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard or Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, One Part Woman is a powerful portrait of rural, working-class India, an important counterpart to books that explore the urban experience. PEN International recently featured the book as part of its “Read the Resistance” campaign. They will support publication, as will organizations such as the Asian American Writers Workshop. We are approaching authors including Karan Mahajan, Anuk Arudpragasam, Katharine Boo, Min Jin Lee, and Aravind Adiga for blurbs.