Perumal Murugan’s Fire Bird, translated from the Tamil by Janani Kannan does not stop at land as a literal source of life and death; rather, it carves avenues for extended explorations of belonging and longing, of land as not just acres of yield but ground on which to find your feet. Murugan uses farming as a pivot from which to tell different stories not only about the tangled relations between people and land but also about how ties between people are routed through space. Fire Bird never lets us forget that any sense of footing we have in this world is unstable – an understanding its narrative structure reinforces.

Kavitha M is the interpreter for Perumal Murugan in this interview.