Sunday 28 February 2021

Book Review of 'Amma' by Perumal Murugan

My 20th read of 2021 is my first of this author. I’d heard much about his work and this had been on my TBR for a long time. Not disappointed at all, it was well worth the wait.

One cannot help but wonder how far this author has come in life to be able to pen such a compelling book, especially given his simple schooling, upbringing and home atmosphere.


The book is essentially a collection of 22 essays penned by the author about his mother. The author preface and foreword penned by his wife offer more insights into the stories contained within.

each essay is compelling in its own little shell. The topic on hand is discussed with a background just sufficient to follow the narration and impact that invariably follows at the end. All of them have the common thread of interminable will and resilience that follows the struggle of a rural woman. Her endless toil to feed and educate her sons, along with her peculiar idiosyncrasies, cleverness, acceptance and realizations make for a compelling read.

Stories like Making murukku and Gift Accounts are no different from some instances that all of us may remember from our own childhoods, with our own parental interactions.

The Book Addict is my favourite, for obvious reasons. I identify with the bibliophile in the author completely, down to the last detail. The Thousand Eyed Shirt is heartrending. However, it is the first one, AN invitation from the moon that leaves goosebumps over the skin, when he recounts the sheer courage, tenacity and spirit of his Amma.

It subtly points out how most city women have made laziness their forte and are insufferable fusspots, not much worse than the spoilt brats they normally raise. Also, it reminds us of the reality of the older generation today, especially in the cities, who are addicted to serials, gossip and general lethargy. There are many life lessons to be gleaned from this book.


The simple language and vocabulary are easy to read and relish.

The book contains multiple elements that strongly reminded me of an earlier read of last year by Bama, called Karukku. The rural setting, the long labour of women, the daily struggles and challenges, nostalgic childhood memories, repetitive story-telling tendencies and even the Dalit and caste connection towards the end, all of these were reminiscent of Bama’s famous work.


A clean 4.8/5 for this one. Extra points may be awarded to the ruthless honesty of the author – he neither spares himself, his family or his beloved Amma – everyone is dissected by his ink on the pages.

This book is a gem – a showcase to society and ample learning for generations to come.

If you enjoyed my review, follow my blog for more.

Happy reading, readers!


No comments:

Post a Comment