Saga of Faith and Toil
Shilpa Nataraj
BLACK SOIL (KARISAL) by Ponneelan. Translated from the original Tamil by J. Priyadarshini Penguin/Hamish Hamilton, 2023, 368 pp., INR 699
September 2023, volume 47, No 9

At midnight on 15th August 1947, Independent India’s first Prime Minister said: ‘To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.’ The gradual loss of faith and confidence, the need for criticism and resistance, the need to hold those in positions of authority accountable for bloodshed, and the need to reimagine the noble mansion of India with an architecture that defies the adherence to caste-religion based vaastu are all depicted by Ponneelan as he tells the melancholic

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