Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan is an Indian professor of Tamil literature and a literary writer. Murugan has authored eleven novels, five short story collections, and five poetry collections. His works One Part Woman (2013) and Poonachi (The Story Of A Black Goat, 2017) were longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature. Also, his novel Pyre was a longlist candidate for the 2023 International Booker Prize.

Perumal Murugan was born into a family of farmers in Thiruchengodu, a town in Namakkal district. He studied Tamil literature in Erode and Coimbatore and earned an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Madras University. His scholarly work, particularly his Ph.D. thesis on the works of R. Shanmugasundaram, underscores his deep engagement with Tamil literary traditions.

As a professor of Tamil literature, Murugan has contributed extensively to the academic and research fields, focusing on the Kongunadu region's literary and cultural nuances. As part of his work, he has compiled a lexicon of the region's dialect, researched local folklore, and republished classical Tamil texts and literature.

Murugan's academic roles have spanned several institutions, including the Government Arts College in Namakkal and a brief period at Presidency College, Chennai.

Murugan's literary career is as prolific as his academic one, with twelve novels, six short story collections, six poetry anthologies, and thirteen non-fiction books. His novels, many of which have been translated into English, explore themes of rural life, caste discrimination, gender issues, and the complexities of modernity.

His novel One Part Woman sparked significant controversy, leading to a temporary withdrawal from writing, a decision reversed by a supportive court ruling in 2016. The controversy surrounding One Part Woman highlighted the challenges Murugan faced from caste-based and religious groups, culminating in litigation that tested the boundaries of artistic freedom and expression in India.

In addition to his novels, Murugan's contributions to poetry and short stories enrich Tamil literature and offer insights into the cultural and social dynamics of the region. Murugan also serves as Vice President of PEN International.

Photo credit: FB @InSupportOfPerumalMurugan
years of life: 15 October 1966 present
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