... a book marked with the same quality of luminous integrity and beauty seen in Maadhorubaagan (One Part Woman). What a world of hidden treasure is being unveiled by this writer and his sensitive translator. Like the creepers and tendrils of the Kongu land he describes so lovingly, it twines around and holds you fast ... I find myself instead being grateful in a grotesquely inappropriate way to the poisonous controversy that brought Perumal Murugan within my ken ... In reading someone like Murugan, there is always a sense of wonderment and mourning at the resonances lost in not reading in Tamil, but Aniruddhan translates with a fine ear that preserves beautifully the music of the original ... I have yet to read an Indian author who writes of love as beautifully as Murugan does ... the love between man and wife glows with a sweet, strong passion that draws you into its folds like the drowsy buzzing of bees on a heady summer afternoon...the tenderness pours off the pages like golden honey ... This is Murugan’s rich Kongu land, which he has mined so deeply and well. It’s a barren, sun-scorched and unforgiving land but it comes blazingly alive in the writer’s eloquent voice ... To classify Perumal Murugan’s books as vattaara ilakkiyam or sub-regional literature would be tragic, because he succeeds in universalising Kongu Nadu to such a degree that place and person fall away and all that remains is a hard and glittering gem of a story.
A novel with a title like Pyre is unlikely to have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the journey towards this inevitable outcome delivers a disturbing insight into human bigotry and brutality whose application extends far beyond the novel’s treatment of inter-caste marriage in contemporary Tamil Nadu ... The translation from the original Tamil relies on simple English and the occasional American idiom yet comprehensively captures the claustrophobic atmosphere in which the lovers exist.
The prose is deceptively simple and sparse. And yet it has the effect of hitting you hard like the blazing sun, the parched land, the rock, and the thorny karuvelum shrubs ... Perumal Murugan, a poet and a scholar, knows how to handle masterful imagery and human emotions. Especially when he delves into the emotional space of his women characters, be it a coarse, unloving mother-in-law or the soft, sparrow-like, bewildered new bride ... It is a sensitive translation done with great care. There is not a single word that jars and the narrative is more tightly woven ... It will haunt the reader for a long time.