The Story of a Goat
N Kalyan Raman
Publisher: Black Cat
Perumal Murugan is the star of contemporary Tamil literature and one of the most important living writers in India, having garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success for his work. Grove published his American debut, One Part Woman, to a great reception last fall, and the novel was longlisted for the inaugural National Book Award for Literature in Translation.
One Part Woman received glowing reviews from major publications. In the New York Times, Parul Sehgal raved, “I’m hoping for a whole shelf of books from this writer,” and the New Yorker wrote, “Subtly subversive . . . The novel considers the constraints of tradition.”
Murugan was featured in a New York Times profile in 2016, and we are expecting a New Yorker profile to coincide with the publication of The Story of a Goat.
The Story of a Goat joins the ranks of such novels as The Guest Cat and The Friend in its literary exploration of the rich inner life of an animal.
The Story of a Goat is an allegorical examination of power, abuse, surveillance, and greed, based on Murugan’s own experience of the autocratic and conservative Modi regime. However, Murugan chose to approach these topics through the lens of an animal instead of a human given the controversy and backlash in India to One Part Woman’s publication in 2015; in his preface, he writes, “I am fearful of writing about humans . . . [but] there are only five species of animals with which I am deeply familiar . . . Therefore, I have chosen to write about goats.”
The English translation is a bestseller in India and has been translated into ten Indian languages (as well as Korean). The novel was shortlisted for the first annual JCB Prize for Literature, whose jury—which includes the writer Vivek Shanbhag—wrote, “Funny and warm . . . Perumal Murugan is a master story-teller who reflects profoundly on our transactional society and its inequities and struggles . . . A powerful modern fable.”
Murugan was recently elected one of the Vice Presidents of PEN International, joining a list of international luminaries that includes Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, and J.M. Coetzee.