DOI: 10.1515/zaa-2023-2027 ISSN: 0044-2305

Authorial Lives and Deaths: Revisiting Perumal Murugan’s Literary Death and Afterlives

Ahmed Shabin
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


Tamil writer Perumal Murugan announced his authorial death on Facebook in January 2015. The events that led to this moment and what followed highlight the contentious relationship between authorship and censorship. This paper positions itself within the field of literary authorship studies. While mid-twentieth-century French theory had engaged with notions of authorial death and author-as-victim, witnessing Murugan’s actions following the call for a social boycott of his novel, One Part Woman, in 2014, brought back to life theory that had long been buried. Explaining his experiences in light of Roland Barthes’s and Michel Foucault’s treatises on authorship, this paper reads Murugan’s literary suicide and writings as a resurrection that creatively challenges attempts to shun his critical fiction. His example highlights how a socio-political environment that is suspicious of plurality and democracy renders the relations among the author, the reader, the text, and the context as unstable.