Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Review: The Goat Thief by Perumal Murugan

This is my first book by Perumal Murugan, a little controversial yet highly acclaimed author. The Goat Thief (Juggernaut Books) is a translated work of fiction, a collection of short stories. I'm not a fan of translated works, mainly because the translated language often lose the essence of the storytelling. But, kudos to N. Kalyan Raman – the translator of this collection – for maintaining the original voice.

There are 10 well written, unique and sometimes strange stories in this collection. Strange because in some stories the core and active element of the stories are strange – like toilet or well or tumbler.

While some stories are strange, some stories are realistic like ‘Musical Chairs’ that tells about the feelings and dilemma of a lonely house wife. And, ‘An Unexpected Visitor', my favourite story in this collection. It beautifully tells about the tender, burgeoning bond between a little boy and his great-grandmother who was once a stranger. I adored Paati, the grandma. 

The most interesting thing about these stories is that they cover so many different perspectives. Some stories have even supernatural touch!

I really liked the opening story 'The Well' – mainly because it’s a very well crafted story. ‘The Wailing of a Toilet Bowl’ is a gripping story but honestly, I did not get it. ‘The Night the Owl Stopped Crying’ is one of my favourite that tells about Raju, a night watchman who feels terribly lonely and finally finds a companion in a ghost. ‘Mirror of Innocence’ is a simple yet nice story about a wailing child.

The title story, ‘The Goat Thief’ was a story that did not interest me. Other three stories were okay.

I felt that the writing has this distinctive tone of folktales, which is good because the blurb says, 'Set in the arid Kongu landscape of rural Tamil Nadu, these tales illuminate the extra-ordinary acts that make up everyday lives.' It’s commendable how the author manages to find striking stories in simplest and commonest things.

If you have read and liked this author, you must pick this one. If you haven't read this author, you should read this collection. 

Thank you Juggernaut Books for sending me this book (Paperback) for an unbiased review.

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