Book Review: Pyre, by Perumal Murugan

Love is something that is beautiful, and something that doesn’t get impeded by any boundaries. Yet society has its own rules of caste, creed, religion that it imposes on love without any consideration. Any breaking of these rules is considered a crime, and unacceptable. Not very often do I think twice before taking a novel to read, but with this one, I had to. Not just because the blurb indicated such a story of love against society imposed traditional boundaries, but because of the title of the story which was very ominous as to where the story was headed.

Kumaresan works in a town, and falls in love with Saroja, who he meets there. Theirs is a love that knows no boundaries, and they marry, keeping the fact that they are from different castes a secret. It is one thing to live with that in a town, where those boundaries aren’t that pronounced, and a completely different one to go back to the village Kumaresan hails from and to make a life over there. The obscure village still has those traditional values at heart, and the villagers suspect the secret, which soon becomes sure. Saroja, unaccustomed to the ways of life at the village, struggles to cope, and seeing that, Marayi, Kumaresan’s mother feels that she is useless.

The book is engaging, yes, but in keeping with the plot, it is also a heavy read. Be it the struggle the couple feel to break through the rigid caste system at the village, or the emotions that they go through when that struggle doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit, the author puts it across in a way that the reader feels it, not just reads it. The characters are realistic too, and sketched well. The character of Kumaresan is one I liked, for he continues to try and get Saroja accustomed to the way of life seeing her struggle. I liked the cover art as well, so simple yet deep. What I didn’t like was the ending which, as I said earlier, is horrid and ominous, but it keeps to the storyline.

Would I read it again? Perhaps, I will, but not anytime soon. I have the author’s earlier novel with me, but I haven’t read it. I should, and I think that’ll happen in some time as well. Pyre is a heavy read, but one that’s quite beautiful in portraying what it wants to, and one that’s definitely worth reading.


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A score of 8 out of 10
Book Details
Title: Pyre
Author(s): Perumal Murugan Genre: Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9780670087754 Publisher: Penguin Random House

The review is for the publisher, who provided a copy of the eBook for me to read. No other payment was taken. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
11th July 2016)

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