From one of India's best-known writers and the author of the National Book Award-longlisted One Part Woman comes a surprising tale of an orphaned goat and the family that decides to take care of her, despite the potential cost to them.
Perumal Murugan the writer lives, fearless as ever. He has returned with another parable about village life, written with breathtaking and deceptive simplicity ... Murugan writes about animal life (and death, lust, resentment) without a whiff of sentimentality ... How badly will this little goat be made to suffer? If very badly, why bother with such a story? Why go to literature to encounter suffering? The Story of a Goat answers this question with more grace, wit and feeling than any book I’ve encountered in recent memory. We go to such stories for the relief of honesty; to see what is hidden brought to light; to acknowledge, if here alone, the pain routinely inflicted on lives normally considered too insignificant to be the subject of great literature ... Murugan writes a disconcertingly effective goat sex scene ... Originally published in 2016, the novel feels prophetic, anticipating the new law in India that grants citizenship to migrants on the basis of religion ... 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.
... jumps nimbly from fantasy to realism to parable. How much it resonates with you will depend on the breadth of your sympathies and your interest in adult tales that include the thoughts and feelings of animal characters. The effect is not so much escapist fantasy as existential reflection ... You may be tempted to think this novel doesn’t interest you, doesn’t relate to the sophisticated architecture of your experience, but the elegance of Murugan’s simple tone will lull you deeper into his story. If there’s something remote about the work of subsistence farming and the friction of a small village, there’s also something hypnotic about the rhythms of such a life ... Woven through this slim novel is an acidic satire about the burdens and humiliations of the over-regulated country in which the old man and woman live. His portrayal of arrogant officials who intimidate these poor people with a blizzard of regulations and forms will make you pine for the relative graciousness of the DMV. Murugan never pushes the point, but it’s clear that the human characters are not much freer than the goats they keep penned in their yard ... as The Story of a Goat demonstrates, just because we’ve put away childish things doesn’t mean we have to deny ourselves the strange pleasure of fiction in which animals articulate their own curious perspectives on their lives — and ours.
This is not the first book that N. Kalyan Raman has translated and the ease with which the story flows and the simple picturesque language makes it a wonderful read ... The book has a lot of social and political commentary. The author is from a family of farmers and the insight he possesses on that life is well captured from the perspective of a goat. Though she seems to possess some thoughts that seem too advanced to have emerged from a goat, Poonachi retains her animal charm and will wind her way into your heart.