Love in Times of Caste

Much like Romeo and Juliet, Saroja and Kumaresan commit the ultimate sin of falling in love with the wrong person. Kumaresan has left his village to work in a soda shop in the nearby town of Tholur. Here he encounters Saroja, who lives with her father and brother in a neighboring house. Despite both parties being cripplingly shy, they manage to acknowledge their shared feelings for each other. There’s just one problem: they’re from different castes.

After a hasty wedding, they arrive in Kumaresan’s village, harboring a dangerous secret: their marriage is an inter-caste one, likely to upset the village elders should they get to know of it. Kumaresan is naively confident that all will be well. But nothing is further from the truth. Despite the strident denials of the young couple, the villagers strongly suspect that Saroja must belong to a different caste. It is only a matter of time before their suspicions harden into certainty and, outraged, they set about exacting their revenge.

A devastating tale of innocent young love pitted against chilling savagery, Pyre conjures a terrifying vision of intolerance.

Longlisted for the DSC prize for South Asian Literature.


»PYRE glows with as much power as [One Part Woman] did, and adds immeasurable value to contemporary Indian literature.«
The Hindu

»Pyre is a reminder of the profound symbiosis of self and society that we are not always conscious of.«
The News Minute

Original Language

Tamil, Kalachuvadu Publications

Rights sold

ENGLISH (World excl Indian Subcontinent) Grove Atlantic
ENGLISH (Indian Subcontinent) Penguin Random House India
FRENCH Éditions Stéphane Marsan
TELUGU Praya Sakthi

Available Material

Tamil Original
English Translation


on behalf of World excl. English, Italian, Indian languages, Korean, Turkish

© Courtesy of the author

Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan is one of India’s most well-known literary writers. He has written ten novels and five collections each of short stories and poetry. His best-known novel One Part Woman was longlisted for the inaugural National Book Award for Translation, and it won the prestigious ILF Samanvay Bhasha Samman for writing in Indian languages and the Translation Prize from India’s National Academy of Letters. 'One Part Woman', his best-known work, a powerful exploration of caste and identity as well as a moving story of love and family (in Tamil 'Madhorubhagan') has been a bestseller, having sold over 100,000 copies in India. It was shortlisted for the Crossword Award and won the prestigious ILF Samanvay Bhasha Samman. Perumal Murugan's works have won critical acclaim and earned him several national Awards.