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One Part Woman

af Perumal Murugan

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2034134,427 (3.72)10
"Selling over 100,000 copies in India, where it was published first in the original Tamil and then in this celebrated English translation, One Part Woman has become a cult phenomenon in the subcontinent, jump-starting conversations about caste and female empowerment. Set in rural South India during the British colonial period, it follows a couple, Kali and Ponna, who are unable to conceive. Kali and Ponna try everything to please their parents and have a child, including circumambulating a mountain supposed to cure barren women, but none of the offerings or rituals helps. A more drastic plan is required, so Kali and Ponna's mothers agree that Ponna should go to the annual chariot festival, a celebration of the half-male, half-female god Maadhorubaagan. On the eighteenth night of the festival, there is an immense carnival, during which the rules of marriage are relaxed, and consensual sex between unmarried men and women is overlooked, for all men are considered gods. But rather than bring them together, this scheme threatens to drive the couple apart. Wryly amusing and deeply poignant, One Part Woman is a powerful exploration of a loving marriage strained by the expectations of others"--… (mere)
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Even though it all went wrong

Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Media:Audio
Read by Peter Holdway
Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins

This is a story of a married couple Kali and Ponna in Southern India who have been happy for many years but who have been unable to conceive a child. For many years they have pondered going to the festival of the god Maadhorubaagan. Maadhorubaagan is half woman, half man. On the eighteenth day of the annual festival this god allows men and women to have consensual sex outside of marriage. The men in this case become gods. If the problem of conception is Kali, then there’s a chance that if Ponna attends the festival on the eighteenth day, she will conceive.

Neither Kali or Ponna have wanted Ponna to attend, though all but one of their families’ members have encouraged this course of action. If Ponna does not have a child Kali worries she will regret it. If she doesn’t have a child Ponna worries that Kali will regret it. What can they do?

The story is set during colonial rule, though colonial actions do not play a proactive part in the main story. It’s more about the daily lives of Kali and Poona, and their friends and family, as they live mostly happy lives in rural India. Until. Or maybe forever. You’ll have to read the book.

I doubt many of you will have my delightful experience though. I “read” the book using an electronic copy from the US Talking Books library. It’s read by Peter Holdway, a non-professional volunteer who does an excellent job. At times he repeats a phrase. There was at least one time when I heard an intake of breath and the sound of a turning page. It was sort of comforting, like having a real live person reading to me.

The book was written in Tamil. Many Tamil writers have written in English. This includes Sri Lankan Anuk Arudpragasam who noted, … English is the language of aspiration and opportunity in Sri Lanka, as in many other former British colonies, and it is taught to those of us in Sri Lanka who have the privilege, even if our parents were educated in Tamil or Sinhalese. Very few people in South Asia are capable of writing and speaking in sophisticated English, but almost all South Asian writing disseminated internationally has been originally written in English, because it is financially and institutionally supported globally. in A SMALL WINDOW OF CONSCIOUSNESS

On listening to One Part Woman I could feel the authenticity of the book. Whether it was because it was originally written in the writer’s native language , or because of the Audible page-turning of the narrator, I’m unsure. Whichever it was, or perhaps it was both, I found it a gentle and pleasant read. ( )
1 stem kjuliff | Mar 12, 2024 |
One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan is a book that made the author an object of controversy. The book is about a couple in rural Tamil Nadu in Independent India. Kali and Ponna have been married for twelve years but do not have children and this has made their otherwise blissful life, unbearable.
The story puts forward the kind of criticism and social discrimination the couple face together and as individuals in the society. It weaves together various stories about ancestors, Gods and even animals and manages to make the reading experience a beautiful one. The story shows how Kali and Ponna's relationship is affected by something that is considered essential in a marriage in our society. It has been successfully portrayed the family dynamics that was and still is predominantly seen in our country
Overall, a well written book. It is short but it does a good job in keeping you engaged and the storyline moves very well and includes a lot of important topics including social hierarchy, gender issues, caste and untouchability without deviating from the story. ( )
  GouriReads | Mar 21, 2023 |
I took up this book mainly because of the controversy surrounding it, and because I liked its synopsis.

I liked the characters a lot; their struggles seemed all too real. Their rustic life captured my attention. The author has a way with words, especially the sensual scenes.
The way they (the protagonists) longed for a child, and did every single thing in their power to please the upset deities (though, all in vain) was kind of heartbreaking.
The society they lived in too wasn't really one to let them live in peace; they always had to interfere and say something about their personal matters. They taunted, spread rumors and whatnot.

The one scene about the dispute regarding Uncle Nallupayyan's inheritance was absolutely hilarious and I LOL'd hard.
Also, the scene where the grandfather tricks everyone into believing that he had thrown the rock across the lake was extremely cunning and amusing. But blaming that incident for them not having a child was lunacy.

Reading about the controversy I feel really bad for the author. I'm all for the freedom of expression, and this has been a blatant violation of it IMO. Read the following excerpt taken form the Wikipedia page of the novel:
In January 2015, Perumal Murugan, 48, has a post which reads like a suicide note. It is by P Murugan on behalf of Perumal Murugan. “Author Perumal Murugan is dead. He is no God. Hence, he will not resurrect. Hereafter, only P Murugan, a teacher, will live,” it reads. The note thanks everyone who supported the author and upheld the freedom of expression, and announces the withdrawal of all his novels, short stories and poems. It calls on his publishers not to sell his books and promises to compensate their losses. The readers have been advised to burn their copies of his books. The note ends with an appeal to caste, religious, political and other groups to end their protests and leave the writer alone since he has withdrawn all his books


*WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!*

One of the major reasons why this book didn't score well for me was its ending. I mean really, you're gonna leave me hanging like that? It's s**t like that that kills it for me.
( )
  Govindap11 | Mar 21, 2020 |
This novel of unresolved tensions due to societal pressures to produce children is an eye-opening look at rural life during the colonial period in Tamil Nadu, southern India. In a culture where the need for a successor generation is so critical that a lack of pregnancy in the first month of marriage is cause for consternation, a loving couple, farmers Kali and Ponna, are on the verge of having their happy marriage torn apart by infertility. Kali’s refusal to take a second wife, and their tenderness and care of each other, are brilliantly portrayed. The climax of the tale is Ponna’s attendance at an annual religious celebration offering the chance for barren women to become pregnant by other men outside of marriage. Although the novel ends before Ponna makes a life-altering decision on the last night of the chariot festival, the bonds of caste and family loyalty are seemingly stretched beyond repair.

The lack of access to medical assistance to resolve the issue (not knowing if the technology was even available at the time), and at what might have been an insurmountable financial cost, is surprising and tragic to a modern reader. To ponder also: is the lack of a child still seen as ruination in a rural society where many hands are required for sustenance, or has technology has reduced the hardship?

This book, which had been published years earlier, came to the attention of right wing religious circles when the conservative Modi administration came to power. As a result of the descriptions of the licentious actions of men and women in the novel, and the negative view of the half-male, half-female god celebrated at the festival, the author was forced to denounce his own work and stop writing, due to threats of violence by religious extremists. For a time, he became a Salman Rushdie in his own state. Later, courts ruled that Murugan was free to write on whatever topic he chose, and he rejoined the literary world. ( )
  froxgirl | Dec 18, 2018 |
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Murugan, Perumalprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Vasudevan, AniruddhanOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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"Selling over 100,000 copies in India, where it was published first in the original Tamil and then in this celebrated English translation, One Part Woman has become a cult phenomenon in the subcontinent, jump-starting conversations about caste and female empowerment. Set in rural South India during the British colonial period, it follows a couple, Kali and Ponna, who are unable to conceive. Kali and Ponna try everything to please their parents and have a child, including circumambulating a mountain supposed to cure barren women, but none of the offerings or rituals helps. A more drastic plan is required, so Kali and Ponna's mothers agree that Ponna should go to the annual chariot festival, a celebration of the half-male, half-female god Maadhorubaagan. On the eighteenth night of the festival, there is an immense carnival, during which the rules of marriage are relaxed, and consensual sex between unmarried men and women is overlooked, for all men are considered gods. But rather than bring them together, this scheme threatens to drive the couple apart. Wryly amusing and deeply poignant, One Part Woman is a powerful exploration of a loving marriage strained by the expectations of others"--

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