Karukku is the first ever autobiography of a Tamil Christian Dalit woman. It is an eye-opener for those who are unaware of the discriminations that Dalits face, the oppressions of religious institutions, and Bama’s painful journey to arrive at solutions for problems that plague her community.
Summary Of The Book
Karukku means sharp edged palmyra leaves. This is the first Tamil autobiography of a Dalit woman writer, Bama, who goes through a personal crisis which makes her reflect on her life. She tells the story of not just herself but also of thousands of Dalit children who face abuse, discrimination, and neglect because of their caste. After being a part of the Catholic Church order, she starts to realize the oppression within that community. As Bama grows older, it dawns upon her that the beliefs of Christianity are not always put to practice. She tries to re-understand the scriptures, and learns about justice, love, and equality. Bama feels that Dalits’ feeling of inferiority is self-destructive. As she tries to recover from social and institutional betrayal, she makes an effort to understand herself as a woman, a Dalit, and a Christian.
Karukku was initially rejected by the Tamil publishing industry, so Bama published her work privately in 1992. The book broke many social barriers, and was translated to English in 2000. It won the Crossword Book Award the same year. After more than a decade, a new edition of it has been printed. It includes a special note titled 'Ten Years Later', and an introduction by L Holmström, who has translated the book to English.
Karukku is radical, fearless. and self-questioning. Readers will get an insight into the lives of Dalits, and how the author went through intense hurt and anguish in her road to self-discovery.
About The Authors
Bama Faustina Soosairaj, born in 1958, is a Tamil novelist and caste literature activist. She was born into a Catholic Tamil Dalit family, and after graduation became a nun for seven years. However, she left the institution and began writing.
Bama’s novels throw light on the discriminations based on caste and gender that exist in society. After Karukku was published, she was not allowed into her village for seven months. The author’s works also talk about the Roman Catholic clergy’s practice of discrimination and untouchability. Some of her books are Sangati, Kisumbukkaran, Vanmam, Oru Thaathavum,Oru Yerumayum, and Kondattam. Many of her novels have been translated into Telugu, English, German, Malayalam and French.
Bama has started a school for Dalit children in Uttiramerur.
Lakshmi Holmström is an India-born British translator, writer, and critic. She graduated in English Literature from the University of Madras, and did her post graduation from the University of Oxford.
She is the writer of Indian Fiction in English: The Novels of R. K. Narayan, editor of The Inner Courtyard: Short Stories by Indian Women, and co-editor of Writing from India. She has translated novels, poems and stories by Imayam, Pudumaippittan, Ambai and Mauni from Tamil to English. She is the founder of SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive).
In 2011, Holmström was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Simple yet powerfull