Young love is pitted against social discrimination in Perumal Murugan’s powerful and compelling novel, set in the rural Tamil Nadu of the 1980s.

Saroja and Kumaresan are in love. And in danger. After a whirlwind romance they marry in a small southern Indian town, before returning to Kumaresan’s family village. But the newlyweds are harbouring a dangerous secret: they belong to different castes, and if the villagers find out they will be in grave peril. 

Faced with venom from her mother-in-law, and pointed questions from her new neighbours, Saroja struggles to adjust to a lonely and uncomfortable life. Kumaresan throws himself into building a business, hoping to scrape together enough money for them to start over somewhere new. But as vicious whispers encircle the couple, will their love be enough to keep them safe?

Pyre was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, announced on March 14, 2023.


The International Booker Prize 2023
Published by
Pushkin Press
Publication date
Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan

About the Author

Perumal Murugan is a professor of Tamil literature and one of India's most respected and bestselling literary writers.
More about Perumal Murugan
 Aniruddhan Vasudevan

Aniruddhan Vasudevan

About the Translator

Aniruddhan Vasudevan is a sociocultural anthropologist who writes and translates between Tamil and English.
More about Aniruddhan Vasudevan

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.

— The International Booker Prize 2023 panel of judges on 'Pyre'