The Book of Desire
THE BOOK of DESIRE is the award-winning (Women’s Prize-shortlisted) writer Meena Kandasamy’s luminous translation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl, a 2000-year-old song of female love and desire.
Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kāmattu-p-pāl is the third part of the Thirukkural – 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.
The Book of Desire is Meena’s own feminist reclamation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl. With her trademark wit, lyricism and passionate insight, she 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. This is a book that fizzes with energy, is full of delight – and a translation that conveys powerful messages about female sensuality, agency, and desire. It is a revolution 2000 years in the making.
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