Pyre by Perumal Murngan

Check the official website of the Booker International Prize 2023 for background information on Muugan’s novel.

Wikipedia – Biography

Chicago Review of Books – Review

Times Literary Supplement – Review

Goodreads – Reviews

Washington Independent Review of Books

Tribune India – Review

New Yorker – Profile

Federal – Interview

Aniruddhan Vasudevan – Translator

The birth of a child is often figured as an emblem of regeneration, a symbol of growth that promises healing to the arid dryness of the land. Yet, in Pyre, the expected birth of a child to Kumaresan and Saroja promises only discord and death, a frightening result of crossing the barriers of caste. Kumaresan in Pyre and Samsa in Boulder are equally naive in believing that a child can somehow soften the caste-hardened village system of his own heritage or the rock-hardened personality structure of her partner.

Both of these novels gain their narrative power from the poetic instincts of their authors. In Boulder, the bold use of metaphor as the genesis of character grounds the protagonist to her environment and causes the antagonist to be realized in contrasted relief such as the image of Samsa’s group of mothers gathered to nurse their young. The ambiguous ending of Pyre, its fire-dream embracing the freezing Saroja, leaves the reader with the repetitive sound of Kumaresan’s bicycle. Poetry rather than plot-based denouement.

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