Chennai

I don’t judge the characters in my stories: Perumal Murugan

Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna releasing Perumal Murugan’s The Goat Thief on Thursday. Nirmala Lakshman (left), Director, The Hindu Group, Director, The Hindu Lit for Life and translator N. Kalyana Raman are seen.  

“With novels, I get to explore a lot. It is expansive. But the very form of short story is challenging and the space is confined. This book contains 10 short stories that were picked from 83 short stories which I have written in the last 30 years,” said writer Perumal Murugan speaking at the book launch of The Goat Thief at Sivagami Pethachi auditorium here on Thursday.

The event organised by The Hindu’s Lit For Life had Perumal Murugan, who was in conversation with noted Carnatic singer T. M. Krishna and the book’s translator, N. Kalyan Raman.

Explaining how he picked the 10 stories, Mr. Murugan said that he had couple of criteria based on which the stories were selected. “Firstly, I picked those stories with which I was extremely satisfied. Another criteria was that the story must have generated considerable reactions from the readers,” he added.

When Mr. Krishna asked how writer Perumal Murugan resists from making value judgements about his characters’ and their actions in the story, Mr. Murugan said, “I make no judgments of the characters All of us have been swayed by temptations at some point in life. Unfortunately, some have made it a regular practice.”

He further adds, “I’ve always striven to expose multiple voices. I just give the platform, I don’t take any decision.”

Breathing life into objects

Mr. Krishna also observed that Mr. Murugan strives to explain the setting through smell and sound. “In one of the stories called Musical Chairs, he takes an inanimate object like a chair and breathes life into it,” he said.

When a member of the audience asked if the bitter experiences that he faced from right wing casteist groups couple of years ago had changed his approach to writing, Mr. Murugan said, “Definitely such things change your perspective. I have so many ideas for novels but the reason I chose to write Vellatin Kadhai is because of this reason. I cannot write about gods or people. I cannot write about cows or pigs. The only animal I could write about was a goat. The book was about life of a goat,” he said.

Translator N. Kalyan Raman, who has translated several prominent writers in English, said, “It occurred to me that there should be a proper presentation of Perumal Murugan. We should write about Tamil writers in English to popularise them.”

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 8:17:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/i-dont-judge-the-characters-in-my-stories-perumal-murugan/article19971154.ece

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