Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat


by Perumal Murugan Translated from Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

From the author of One Part Woman and The Story of a Goat, both longlisted for the National Book Award for Translation, comes a poignant and startling novel about love, caste, and intolerance

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 208
  • Publication Date February 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5933-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Publication Date February 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5934-2
  • US List Price $17.00

Profiled in both the New Yorker and the New York Times, Perumal Murugan is one of India’s highest selling and most respected literary writers, and Pyre is perhaps his most beloved work. Saroja and Kumaresan are young and in love. After meeting in a small southern Indian town where Kumaresan works at a soda bottling shop, they quickly marry before returning to Kumaresan’s family village, where they hope to build a happy life together. But they are harboring a terrible secret: Saroja is from a different caste than Kumaresan, and if the villagers find out, they will both be in grave danger. Faced with venom from her mother-in-law and questions from her new neighbors, Saroja tries to adjust to a new lonely and uncomfortable life, while Kumaresan struggles to scrape together enough money for them to start over somewhere new. Will their love keep them safe in a world filled with thorns? In evocative prose, Perumal Murugan masterfully conjures a moving tale of innocent young love pitted against chilling violence.

Tags Literary

Praise for Pyre:

Longlisted for the International Booker Prize
Longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

“An intercaste couple elopes, setting in motion a story of terrifying foreboding. Perumal Murugan is a great anatomist of power and, in particular, of the deep, deforming rot of caste hatred and violence. With flashes of fable, his novel tells a story specific and universal: how flammable are fear and the distrust of others.”—International Booker Prize Judges

“Murugan’s Pyre is haunted by its title—a word that appears nowhere in the novel, but contributes to the growing sense of dread and desperation that shadows it . . . [A] very readable English version by Vasudevan . . . In addition to drawing the reader into Murugan’s Tamil-language environment, Vasudevan also signals the subtle differences in dialect, distinguishing Saroja’s speech from Kumaresan’s. The translation succeeds in reminding the reader of the work’s non-Western, multilingual setting, without compromising the fluency of the narrative.”—Carlos Rojas, New York Times Book Review

“An acclaimed writer in his native India, Murugan skillfully contrasts the young couple’s innocence with the increasingly caustic attacks on their marital union. His spare prose mesmerizes, and Vasudevan’s translation of the original Tamil conveys both meaning and needed context for Western English readers . . . Murugan shows that intolerance, cruelty, and bigotry are universal traits of humankind, even while tailored to the peculiarity of each society. Universal too, are the love, kindness, and familial bonds that exist between individuals who have the sensitivity to look beyond societal custom and coercion. A haunting story of forbidden love set in Southern India that illustrates the cruel consequences of societal intolerance.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A powerful fable of star-crossed lovers and societal intolerance . . . Murugan describes rural life in piercing detail . . . The simple, elegant prose of Vasudevan’s translation ranges from poetic to suspenseful . . . Murugan deserves worldwide recognition.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A Romeo & Juliet fable, centered not on family rivalry but on caste.”—Arts Fuse

“With exquisitely honed details, Murugan vividly exposes society’s blind adherence to draconian traditions.”—Booklist


Praise for Perumal Murugan:

Twice Longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature

“Murugan works his themes with a light hand; they always emanate from his characters, who are endowed with enough contradiction and mystery to keep from devolving into mouthpieces . . . It’s not just the physical world Murugan describes so vividly—the way a cow clears its throat, for example—but the rural community, a village of 20 huts and a thousand ancient resentments, where there is no privacy and your neighbor’s suffering can serve as your evening’s entertainment . . . I’m hoping for a whole shelf of books from this writer.”—Parul Sehgal, New York Times, on One Part Woman

The Story of a Goat, translated from Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman, jumps nimbly from fantasy to realism to parable . . . The effect is not so much escapist fantasy as existential reflection . . . The elegance of Murugan’s simple tone will lull you deeper into his story . . . The early scenes of tiny Poonachi wandering in the field and cavorting with other goats are as soft as cashmere . . . Woven through this slim novel is an acidic satire.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“A major Indian writer . . . Dark currents run through One Part Woman . . . Kali and Ponna, a couple who are erotically wrapped up in each other, withstand waves of derision because they have not conceived a child after a decade of marriage . . . When describing the farming communities of South India, Mr. Murugan is neither sentimental nor harsh.”New York Times (profile)

“Intimate and affecting . . . Throughout the novel, Murugan pits the individual against the group. How far you willing to go, he asks, in order to belong? . . . Murugan’s descriptions of village life are evocative, but the true pleasure of this book lies in his adept explorations of male and female relationships, and in his unmistakable affection for people who find themselves pitted against the world.”—Laila Lalami, New York Times Book Review, on One Part Woman

“This fable of society, bureaucracy, and rural life centers on a Tamil farming couple in South India and the female goat they receive from a mysterious man. The boundaries between human and animal consciousness are blurred as the frail foundling matures under the couple’s care, encountering maternal bliss and heartbreak. The small triumphs and tragedies of rural life, such as drought, material wealth, and run-ins with a comically inefficient provincial government, are relayed through the goat’s trenchant observations, which poignantly expose how tightly the lives of caretakers and their livestock are bound.”New Yorker, on The Story of a Goat

“The title character of Murugan’s elegant new novel is indeed a joy . . . Murugan’s marvelously observant narrative is equally interested in the visceral daily life of a farm creature . . . The greatest achievement of this remarkable novel is the empathy its adult readers will feel for a non-human creature; through Poonachi’s tale we are reminded how much bonds us with the animal world.”USA Today, on The Story of a Goat

“Subtly subversive . . . In simple yet lyrical prose, Murugan shows how their standing in the world depends on offspring . . . The novel considers the constraints of tradition and beautifully articulates the couple’s intense connection, even without a child.”New Yorker, on One Part Woman

“[A] parable about village life, written with breathtaking and deceptive simplicity . . . Murugan traces the entire life of his little goat—her despair, her small acts of heroism, her longing—with Chekhovian clarity. Each sentence in Raman’s supple translation is modest, sculpted and clean, but behind each you sense a fund of deep wisdom about the vagaries of the rains, politics, behavior—human and animal.”—Parul Sehgal, New York Times, on The Story of a Goat

“A goat’s life serves as an allegory for the human condition in this novel from an acclaimed Indian author . . . In anthropomorphizing Poonachi, Murugan finds a path to describe the essence of humans’ struggle to survive while grasping for fleeting moments of joy and grace . . . In the tradition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm . . . An affecting modern fable reflecting Murugan’s enchanting capacity to make a simple story resonate on many levels.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review), on The Story of a Goat