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One Part Woman

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,084 ratings  ·  449 reviews
All of Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child—from prayers to penance, potions to pilgrimages—have been in vain. Despite being in a loving and sexually satisfying relationship, they are relentlessly hounded by the taunts and insinuations of the people around them. Ultimately, all their hopes and apprehensions come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published December 20th 2013 by Penguin (first published December 1st 2010)
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Malathy Garewal I am in no way qualified to talk about the academic honesty or lack of on the part of the author. I read the English translation of the novel, "One…moreI am in no way qualified to talk about the academic honesty or lack of on the part of the author. I read the English translation of the novel, "One Part Woman" and do not think there is too much of obscenity. I think it is quite reflective of the way people would speak in real life, including the casteist slurs. An author should not be penalised for depicting reality as it is.(less)
Thiyagu Ganesan certainly not. but it has inputs in volume to tease over the feudal value of male cusp pinching on the identity of male lead.

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Vipassana
Like Hannah Arendt, I'm more than ever of the opinion that a decent human existence is possible today only on the fringes of society, where one then runs the risk of starving or being stoned to death. Some people choose the fringes, some are pushed into them by their circumstances.

Kali and Ponna lay in the fringes simply because they failed to have a child. The modern urban person might sneer at this. Backward. Surely this doesn't happen today in the cities. However much one might like to believe tha
...more
Meike
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, 2018-read
Now Nominated for the National Book Award
This controversial novel led to book burnings and almost ended the career of its author, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. Local caste-based and religious Hindu groups found the portrayal of their culture so objectionable that they staged violent protests - but while the police compelled Murugan to sign an "unconditional apology" and the district banned the book, the Madras High Court later (in 2016) declared the ban illegal and directed the state to better pro
...more
Aditi
"There is no female without the male, and no male without the female. The world goes on only when they come together."

----Perumal Murugan


One Part Woman, the book which erupted fires of scandal through the right wings forces and other caste groups and that which finally put an end to the career of Perumal Murugan, a popular Indian Tamil writer, is one hell of a striking and extremely poignant book that is a must read and must be worshiped by all literary fans of India, not because of the/>One
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Em*bedded-in-books*
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Indian Regional fiction lovers
Was a wonderful read. I love regional Indian literature which enables me to explore this vast, varied and beautiful country of mine, at my own pace, and in the comfort of my home. And I like it more, if the writing is crisp,taut as well as descriptive.
This book dealt with the subject of despair of childless couple, and how they have to cope up with society who feels they lack something. I have encountered the despair of childless couple in my professional life, and I know how devastating t
...more
Saileena
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book to show solidarity with the author after he was bullied by right wing elements and forced to apologise etc.So this was my statement for freedom of expression. i am against banning any book.And I am glad I did,else i would have missed reading a wonderful book:)

The prose is superb and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in original tamil. The descriptions of the village and temples and festival crowds etc are superb..makes one feel like going there and being
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Vimal Thiagarajan
Easily one of the most poignant pieces of literature that I've ever read. Thanks to the Madras High Court for lifting the ban on the Tamil version, though that doesn't do much reparation to the mental agonies the author had to undergo or to the unfortunate readers who might not see another novel from such a talented exponent of the language. But it at least put an end to my annoying 2-year wait to grab the Tamil version with the English version(Easily one of the most poignant pieces of literature that I've ever read. Thanks to the Madras High Court for lifting the ban on the Tamil version, though that doesn't do much reparation to the mental agonies the author had to undergo or to the unfortunate readers who might not see another novel from such a talented exponent of the language. But it at least put an end to my annoying 2-year wait to grab the Tamil version with the English version(One Part Woman) tantalizing me all the time to read it and at least get to know how the controversial subject matter had been treated.

It was a singular reading experience that was both heartwarming and depressing at the same time, page after page, detail after incredible detail. The heartwarming parts had to do with the incredibly microscopic observation and description of how the rural folk of the 1940s(Gounders in this case) lived off the land- the backbreaking labor involved in clearing rough unyielding terrain, their agricultural implements, mechanisms of seeding and harvesting, optimal utilization of organic fertilizers, crop rotation strategies in a rain-fed area ruled by the vagaries of nature, secret nooks in the woods to get far away from the madding crowd when the mind begs for escape, the level of care and intense thinking that went into animal husbandry and a whole host of other details regarding rural sustenance. The depressing parts of course had to do with the subject matter - Kali and Ponna and their arduous struggle for progeny and the endless taunts and insinuations that come their way from a society that is obsessed with not leaving someone alone.

This contrasting experience reminded me of something that I'd read recently - two contrasting sentiments about life in pre-independence Indian villages. While Mahatma Gandhi celebrated village life and its morals and said "If the villages perish, India will perish too. It will be no more India. Her own mission in the world will get lost", Dr B R Ambedkar said "What is a village — a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism".

Perumal Murugan's penmanship is endlessly fascinating. He was daring not just with the handling of a sensitive subject matter, but also with his digressing style of narration dotted with endless anecdotes and time-leaps which might put some readers off. Aside from the microscopic description of rural life, he also posseses a remarkably nuanced understanding of the emotional side of his characters. His portrayal of the degree of passion,chemistry and love that binds the lead characters evokes an emotion that is somewhere between wonder and envy. Though he leaves no room for abstraction in his vivid detailing of rural life, his prose is abundantly laced with layers of deep poetic abstraction. His Gounder and Chakkili characters borrow from his vast compendium of Kongu Tamil words and dialects which made for a pleasingly authentic read.

An incredibly nuanced tale told with nonchalant poetic ease!
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Pooja Singh
"There is no female without the male and no male without the female. The world goes on only when they come together" - One part woman, Perumal Murugan
🌷
Kali and Poona, the married couple of 12 years, have a very loving and sexually satisfying relationship.
Their only qualm is that they are unable to conceive, and this calls for taunts from the whole village and the society, especially for Poona, who is constantly finding herself in embarrassing and humiliating situations because
...more
Srinivas
It is said a man is a social animal. The moment the man believed it, he became a slave to the very society imperceptibly he is a part. Society placed the rules, he followed. The society built the civilizations, he ruled. The whole time he forgot that he made the society. If society is water he is the bowl that containing it. So he, only, holds the power to change a society's discourse. But in course of time, Man let society rule him. This is where One Part Woman started. One Part Woman is about ...more
Helly
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No wonder this book got Murugan in trouble!

An absolutely brilliant attempt to bring out the hypocrisies of the society.
Gayathri
Read the full review at Elgee Writes

Though initially written in my mother tongue Tamil, I read One Part Woman in English and I am glad I did that. While I have heard high praises about the original, I am not sure if I could have digested the rawness in the story.

One Part Woman portrays emphatically the society’s stand towards a couple who are childless, or God forbid choose not to have one, especially in the rural areas.

There are a lot of racial and sexual slurs (more than other novels of t
...more
Bryn Hammond
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable, involving novel, on the classic novelist's fare of individuals squeezed and pressured by the community they live in.

Kali and Ponna aren't allowed to be happy; expectations are that they must have children, which doesn't happen; slowly this single issue throttles their lives. Often the neighbours don't even mean to be cruel, or advert to That Issue; but the wife Ponna grows more and more sensitive on it and cannot stop herself lashing back at people, which digs her hole
...more
Pechi
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the books I've read so far, I guess this one will be the closest to my heart and stay with me the longest. Not only because it is the most intimate and greatest love story ever written IMO, but also because I lived and loved and panicked and raged and cried and laughed with these characters. For the 550-odd pages across which these 3 books stretch, this book was my home. It taught me everything I wanted to know about the human condition, and how beautiful and despicable humans can get. Be ...more
Naori
I am utterly confused by how to respond and I feel as though I should take a few days to reassess my intelligence after reading this. Every single one of my friends gave this five stars with long complex reviews and I just assumed this would be life altering. But I felt the whole time like I was trying to poke into the characters and the plot with a toothpick, and I needed a sword. The biggest issue I had getting into it was that it felt like one second I was reading something intentionally cont ...more
Kru
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The controversies shrouding this book, hurting people's sentiment, women, caste and religion at large, so many debates in media, and not much support from expected quarter, were the only reason I was intrigued by this book.

It would have been lovely reading it in Tamil, but I really couldn't wait any longer. Also, if it had the local slang, it would have been difficult to understand. Luckily, reading it in English, made it a quick read.

I rather found it as a take on the so
...more
Pechi
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now, this is true historic fiction. Not the likes of Ponniyin Selvan.

Meticulously well-researched, amazingly written and splendidly rich with layers of poetic imagery, philosophy, and raw emotions, Madhorubagan is one of a kind.

It is one of those rare novels that sustain your attention with suspense so torturous that it makes you impatiently rush through the whole book to the ultimate revelation in the very last paragraph. Such impatience, panic & restlessness – I’ve
...more
Sairam Krishnan
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several friends have reviewed this novel and their overall sentiment seems to be that there are flaws, both in the writer's gaze and in the translation. A friend has read it in the original Tamil and written about how the novel seems to float along on the surface, not going deep enough. Confronted by these viewpoints, I'm inclined to nod my head at the criticisms, most of which seem valid enough. I'll add one of mine for good measure: Kali's (visceral?) anger at his betrayal at the end just does ...more
Anupama Ma
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
tl;dr : Vyasa- Ambika-Ambalika.

What better way to make a book popular than to demand a ban on it. This isn't a book that I would have picked up if it hadn't been for the whole controversy around it. I'm not sure whether I got the sanitised version or the original 'scandalous' version of the book. I would have loved to read it in Tamil, but it would have taken me much longer to finish the book and my curiosity got the better of me. But the translation is quite good. And since those of us from Ta
...more
Iryna *Book and Sword*
2/5 stars
DNF at 51%


I feel like I am doing myself and this book a disservice by reading a much shortened, translated version of it. The original book is about 500 pages, and this version is 288.

I peaked at other reviews of this book on Goodreads, because the book got a lot of glowing 5 star reviews (and I just couldn't understand why). But now I know that the translation is the reason.

The original, Madhorubdagan, is poetic, lush and beautiful. One Part Woman is dry, choppy and repetitive. Which
...more
Ashish
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book by Perumal Murugan, in my quest to read more books by South Indian authors. I was made aware of this books thanks to the great reviews and the controversy surrounding it, where in some religious groups had protested against parts of the book which they perceived had hurt their religious sentiments. It lead to a halt in the book's printing, leading to the author having to give a public apology, which drove him to quit as a writer. While he did get back to writing subsequently, the b ...more
Sangeetha Ramachandran

A review of its translated version urged me to pick this book. While googling about it, the controversies it created, the author deciding to quit writing after its ban were what appeared in front of me at first. I started reading this one with so many thoughts in mind.

This Tamil novel, published about four year ago talks about a ritual that existed decades ago in tradition.

The story hails from Tamil culture of decades ago in which era the institution of marriage demanded child. OK i
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Hari Balaji
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
To someone who speaks Tamil but cannot read it fluently this translation is a gift since it allows me to seamlessly empathise with the original - a thought provoking theme, beautiful story telling and a brilliant conclusion. In Perumal Murugan I've found my Tamil Chinua Achebe.
Raja Subramanian
I wish I had obtained the original Tamil version Maadhorubaagan instead of the English translation. Not that the translation by Aniruddhan Vasudevan is bad. In fact, the translation is very good, and does tremendous justice to the original. In places, the translation does appear awkward as I tried to map the sentences to what possibly could have been in Tamil. Otherwise, the trnaslation is fairly good.

One Part Woman deals with a very sensitive topic - of couple living in a village ne
...more
Indrani Sen
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: india
Could not love it as much as I wanted to. I could not quite relate to Ponna's overreacting to every minor insult on her childlessness. , In my opinion, the social stigma of being childless was narrated just too many times with too many similar incidents and insults. The end was also not quite satisfactory to me either. The character Muthu I felt was the most interesting with his numerous hiding places and his empathy. Here again the hiding places were too many with too much effort gone in to the ...more
Anushka
It's absolutely terrible what the author had to go through for writing such a poignant piece and it's our duty as sensible readers to recognise the brilliant effort and make this more popular. Every person who reads and appreciate is giving it right back to the people who created chaos out of nothing eventually robbing a writer of his passion and familiarity. I, personally loved the book, it's characters and the depiction of a custom that seems almost too advanced for it's age but after knowing ...more
Vinay Leo
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review at A Bookworm's Musing

This story is beautiful. It's flowing, not fast, and I felt an urgency to know what happened to the characters, the prominent ones being Kali and Ponna, a childless couple. Often translations lose some of the magic of the original. While I have not read the original, this felt like it has been done justice. Definitely worth reading!
Girish
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After almost two years of holding on to "One-part woman" hoping to read the book in Tamil, i finally gave in and read the book in English. This raw portrayal of Ponnan and Kali's 12 year childless plight is written faultlessly painting the beliefs, faiths and life in the villages of Tamil Nadu.

Let's take out the controversy first. The book shows a beautiful bond between Ponna and Kali (sexless names almost suggestive of the book title) despite their childless misery through various a
...more
Simant ♥ Flipping Through the Pages
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lover of Indian literature
Full review on: Flipping Through the Pages

One Part Woman is a story about Kali and Ponna, a married couple, who are unable to conceive even after 12 years of marriage. They are happy and sexually satisfied in their marriage but the only thing lacking is a child. Because of this, they are constantly being targeted by their neighbours and the whole village. Their relatives keep an eye on their property as there is no one inherit that. Kali and Ponna tried everything they could do to have a child. They went fro/>One
...more
Padmaja
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There is no female without the male, and no male without the female. The world goes on only when they come together"
~
One part woman is the story of Kali and Ponna, a couple who is unable to conceive even after 12 years of being married.
As usually happens in society, everyone is cruel to Kali and Ponna just because they don't have children. Both bear the brunt of bring barren and impotent. They have left no stone unturned, doing whatever they can for a child. Relatives, neighbo
...more
Selva Subramanian
I had wanted to read this novel when it was making news for a controversy that is the central plot of the novel. Then I was in two minds about whether to read it in English and Tamil. I started reading novels initially in Tamil but the kind of Tamil that "some" serious novelists write puts me off. So finally read this. It is a fantastic story that has been told very very well. Think the translation did justice to the original and I was hooked to the novel like it was a thriller. For me, nowadays ...more
Prasad GR
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is full of ironies. I had not heard of Perumal Murugan's book before. Until, that is, some so-called pro-Hindu outfits decided to be offended by this book one fine day, five years late.

It is absolutely unbelievable that an intimately private account of the travails of a childless couple has been so grossly twisted out of shape to gain cheap political-cum-religious mileage. Ironically enough, I downloaded this book and read it on my Kindle only after protests erupted demanding it
...more
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கவிதை, சிறுகதை, நாவல, கடடுரை ஆகிய படைபபுத துறைகளுள இயஙகிவருபவர. அகராதி, பதிபபுப பணிகளில ஈடுபாடு. தமிழப பேராசிரியர பணி. இவரது இரணடு நாவலகள ஆஙகிலததில மொழி பெயரககபபடடுளளன. அவை current show (நிழலமுறறம), Seasons of the palm (கூளமாதாரி). 'மாதொருபாகன' விரைவில ஆஙகிலததில வர உளது

Perumal Murugan is a well-known contemporary Tamil writer and poet. He was written six novels, four collections of sho
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“Only when a tree is small can you notice its growth. When it is bigger, it continues to grow, but imperceptibly.” 15 likes
“But do you know how you should live? Like that crow that has built a nest on that palm tree. When it knows it is going to lay eggs, it builds its nest. Then it incubates the eggs and hatches them. It finds food for the little ones and takes care of them until they grow their own wings. Once that happens, what do you think is the relationship between the baby crow and its mother? They go their separate ways. “You got your wings, now get out of here, and fend for yourself.” That’s the way to live. Instead, we give birth, raise them, get them married, save money and struggle. Is this any way to live? If we were more like crows and cuckoos, I’d also like to have children.” 9 likes
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