Book Recommendation of Poonachi or the story of a black goat by Perumal Murugan


Why I picked this book?

It is interesting, how sometimes a book cover or the title can attract your attention and this is exactly what happened with “Poonachi: Or The Story of a Black Goat“.  I was intrigued by the title and decided to have a look. I read the first paragraph of the Preface and knew this is going to be an interesting and thought provoking read. This is how the author starts the preface-

How long can an untold story rest in deep slumber within the dormant seed? I am fearful of writing about humans, even more fearful of writing about gods. I can write about demons, perhaps. I am even used to a bit of demonic life. I could make it an accompaniment here. Yes, let me write about animals.

The Book 

The book as the name suggests is the story of a black goat named Poonachi. The goat kid is gifted to an old man by a mysterious man and although the old man and his wife are poor, they take good care of the goat kid while raising her. The old lady gave her a nickname “Poonachi” as it resembled a kitten she once had by the same name.

Poonachi is a story of a goat who is different from the rest and her instinct to survive despite the odds. And the story also captures her relationship with her owners and other goats told through her eyes. As Poonachi was very weak and the other goats were not ready to feed her, the old woman took care of her and in the process developed a bond with her. It is a story of a goat from her birth till her death told through the eyes of the goat. Perumal anthropomorphizes Poonachi and tells a story of everyday human struggles, the ups and downs, and the little joys of life brilliantly.

Through the story, the author p the readers the lives of the villagers, their daily struggles, and challenges. The book metaphorically depicts the lives of women and the hardships, discrimination, and struggles faced by her through the story of Poonachi. Through the book, the author has raised some political and social issues. There are moments of brilliant satire by the author like this one where the village people are talking among themselves while they are waiting in queue to register their animals in government records.

Speak softly, sir. The regime has ears on all sides. There’s an old saying that the regime is deaf.
It’s deaf only when we speak about our problems. When we talk about the regime, its ears are quite sharp.

This is a brilliantly written book by the author on various issues faced by the general population, the condition of women, and discrimination faced by them through the eyes of a goat. As the story shapes up, you start to empathize with Poonachi, and can feel the emotions she goes through.

About the Author and Translator

Perumal Murugan is the author of six novels, four collections of short stories and four anthologies of poetry in Tamil. Three of his novels have been translated into English: Seasons of the Palm, which was shortlisted for the Kiriyama Prize in 2005, Current Show and One Part Woman. He was a professor of Tamil at the Government Arts College in Namakkal before taking to writing full-time.

Kalyan Raman is a Chennai-based translator of contemporary Tamil fiction and poetry into English. He has published ten volumes of Tamil fiction in translation, working with a range of authorial voices and has also translated and published over 200 poems by leading contemporary Tamil poets in journals and anthologies from India and abroad. He also regularly contributes essays, reviews and articles on literature, culture and public policy. In February 2017, he received the prestigious Pudumaipithan award, given byVilakku, for his contribution to Tamil literature through his translations.

Our Recommendation

A must read  for everyone for the sheer brilliance of story telling by the master storyteller.

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