The embattled author announced his decision on his Facebook page, in a post that read, "Author Perumal Murugan is dead. Only the teacher Perumal would be alive. People could have issues with my other books, that's why I've decided to withdraw them all...I shall pay due compensation to publishers..Don't indulge in protests and let me go."
Published in 2010, 'Madhorubagan' was recommended for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award. Since last month, local groups have hounded him with protests and even called for a local bandh. They allege his latest book has defamed their town and their women.
'Madhorubagan', translated and published in English as 'One Part Woman', is the story of a childless couple, and the tradition of childless women indulging in consensual sex outside marriage in the hope of bearing a child.
The protests have focused on the portrayal of historical traditions related to the noted Ardhanareeswarar Temple in Tiruchengode, where the eponymous presiding deity is part-Shiva and part-Parvati, in one idol. The Tamil title of the book, 'Madhorubagan', is another name for the deity, just as the English title, 'One Part Woman', is an allusion to the deity's form. The protest by some outfits were continued by the local units, even after they lost steam at the state-level.
Mr Perumal has said the book is a work of fiction and had agreed to remove any reference to his hometown of Tiruchengode, which is in northwestern Tamil Nadu. But, those opposing the book were unrelenting in their protests, even after the state government stepped in to try and negotiate peace.
The author, a Tamil professor at a government college, has left his hometown, where views differ on the hostile response to his book. Narayan, a book lover, says, "A writer's views should not be controlled by external forces".
Muvija Murugaiyan, a graduate student, says, "The government should have protected his rights, it should not have sided with the majority".
However, not all are in favour of blind supprt to the writer. "A similar situation exists even in the Mahabharata. In this kind of a situation, how can we get good writing? However, in a multi-cultural society, one should be careful to not hurt any caste or community too," says author and historian Dr Nandita Krishna.