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Bibliophiles rally behind beleaguered Perumal

Bengaluru, Jan 19, 2015, DHNS: 0:39 IST
Raghu Karnad reads aloud Perumal Murugan's book 'One Part Woman' at Lekhana 2015 in the City on Sunday. John Magidson, Liam Pieper and K Nalla Thambi are with him. dh photo
It was a small group of people who had gathered at the Indian Institute of Human Settlements on Sunday. However, those who turned up there were for a cause that they believed in.


A writer must be given the freedom of expression, they all believed. The controversial book of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, ‘Madhorubagan’, the English version of which is titled ‘One Part Woman’ was read aloud.

All eyes were on her as Uma Madan, one of the readers, gripped the book. Expressive that she was, the background noises appeared to fade away with each of them paying great attention to what was read.

Organised as part of “Lekhana 2015,” a literature festival, the reading was open to all. People were free to pick and read the book aloud to the audience present. The reading session began at 11 am and went on till late in the afternoon. Over 20 people from various walks of life, writers, journalists, IT professionals and also students picked up the book and read as much as they wanted to. While for a handful, it was a second reading, a few others had come to listen to its content for the first time. Children of noted Kannada writers, Dr U R Ananth Murthy and Girish Karnad, took part in the event.

K Nalla Thambi, Tamil writer who also read the book, said that it was his friends who asked him to read the book. “I have not gone through it completely. However, from the little bits I understand that he has spoken about a part of society that existed earlier. It is a matter for freedom of expression and he has the right to speak about it,” he added.

‘Nothing controversial’

Gita Aravamudam, an author and journalist, pointed that there was nothing controversial about Perumal’s writing.

“There have been biblical instances of this sort mentioned in various books. It might also be noted that Kunti is believed to have children ‘given by god’. Why was there no questions about that?”Aravamudam said that she had read the book and through the writing, it might be seen that Perumal had described the place with great reverence.

“The way he describes the place, the rocks and the fields shows his sense of belongingness towards the place. He did not want to be exiled from his own land. This is very evident,” she added.
‘One part Woman’ speaks about a childless couple who are asked to try out various rituals so as to have children.Meanwhile, it appears that the last option that they were left with was to let the wife have consensual sex with another man during a festival. The storyline invited the wrath of many Hindu activist groups following which the writer posted a comment on a social networking site stating: “Perumal Murugan, the writer is dead.”

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