Perumal Murugan’s novel, Fire Bird, translated from the Tamil by Janani Kannan has been longlisted for the 2023 JCB Prize for Literature. Scroll spoke to Murugan and Kannan about the origins, themes, and writing and translating of this novel.
In Fire Bird, Muthu has his world turned upside down when his father divides the family land, leaving him with practically nothing and causing irreparable damage to his family’s bonds. Through the unscrupulous actions of his once revered eldest brother, Muthu is forced to leave his once-perfect world behind and seek out a new life for himself, his wife and his children. Perumal Murugan draws from his own life experiences of displacement and movement and explores the fragility of our fundamental attraction to permanence and our ultimately futile efforts to attain it.