The Grip of Change is the English translation of Pazhaiyana Kazhithalum, the first full-length novel by P. Sivakami, an important Tamil writer. This translation also features Asiriyar Kurippu, the sequel in which Sivakami revisits her work.
The protagonist of Book 1, Kathamuthu, is a charismatic Parayar leader. He intervenes on behalf of a Parayar woman, Thangam, beaten up by the relatives of her upper caste lover. Kathamuthu works the state machinery and the village caste hierarchy to achieve some sort of justice for Thangam. The first Tamil novel by a Dalit woman, Pazhaiyana Kazhithalum went beyond condemning caste fanatics. Sivakami is critical of the Dalit movement and Dalit patriarchy, and yet does not become a ‘caste traitor’ because of her participation in the search for solutions. The novel became an expression of Dalit youth—eager and working for change. In Book 2, Author’s Note, Kathamuthu’s daughter Gowri, the author of Book 1, traces the circumstances and events of her novel. The result is a fascinating exploration of the disjunctures between what happens in the author’s family and community, and her fictional interpretations of those happenings.
The Series: The books in the Literature in Translation series are translations of significant literature from Indian languages. The books in the Dalit Studies series deal with Dalit life and thought.