In 2015, Indian author Perumal Murugan left his writing career after right-wing Hindu groups decried his novel One Part Woman as insulting to Hindu women. After the Madras High Court defended his right to freedom of expression, Murugan once again took up the figurative pen to produce this fable. "I am fearful of writing about humans," Murugan confesses in the preface to the original Tamil edition. Although the admission sounds like a loss of confidence after the attempts to censor his writing, he proceeds to deliver a wholly human story wrapped up in the person of an orphaned black goat.
So tiny that strangers mistake her for a kitten, the goat kid Poonachi comes into an old couple's lives when a mysterious giant of a man presses her on them. Later, the old man will claim the demon Bakasuran gave her to him, but at first, he and his wife focus their energy on keeping the kid alive. Their nanny goat refuses to nurse her, and Poonachi is attacked one night by an unseen predator. However, the kid survives and becomes the old woman's companion.
As the story progresses, its sophistication and maturity evoke Animal Farm. Poonachi's owners live under an inept bureaucracy, adding satirical humor for readers but hardship for the characters. Though dappled with moments of beauty and joy, Poonachi's days are rife with tragedy and exploitation. Translated by N. Kalyan Raman, this earthy tale is as emotionally affecting as any human-centered drama. The Story of a Goat is a frank exploration of oppression, greed, love and what good can be made of even the most meager life. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads