Tiruvalluvar was an ancient Tamil poet and philosopher best known for writing the Tirukkural, a collection of couplets on matters ranging from love to ethics.
Meena Kandasamy (Translator)
Meena Kandasamy is an anti-caste activist, poet, novelist and translator. She has written books of poems such as Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010), as well as three novels, The Gypsy Goddess (2014), When I Hit You (2017), and Exquisite Cadavers (2019). Her novels have been shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Hindu Lit Prize.
She has been a fellow of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, a Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow at the University of Kent and a fellow of the Berlin-based Junge Akademie. In 2022, she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL), United Kingdom.
Her op-eds and essays have appeared in The White Review, Guernica, The Guardian and The New York Times, among other places.
Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kamattu-p-pal is the third part of the Tirukkural - one of the most important texts in Tamil literature. The most intimate section of this great work - it is also, historically, the part that has been most heavily censored. Although hundreds of male translations of the text have been published, it has also only ever been translated by a woman once before. Tirukkural is award-winning writer Meena Kandasamy's luminous translation of the Kamattu-p-pal.
Meena Kandasamy delves into this classic, and provides the first feminist interventionist translation into English-remaining true to the desire throbbing through the lifeblood of the text, while retaining the drama that pervades the quintessential Tamil world of exaggerated hurt, lover's quarrels and evenings lost to longing.
With her trademark wit, lyricism and passionate insight, Meena weaves a magic spell: taking the reader on a journey through 250 kurals, organised under separate headings - 'The Pleasure of Sex', 'Renouncing Shame', 'The Delights of Sulking' - the result is a fresh, vital, and breath-taking translation that conveys powerful messages about female sensuality, agency, and desire. It is a revolution 2000 years in the making.