The Book of Desire is the award-winning (and Women's Prize-shortlisted) writer Meena Kandasamy's luminous translation of the Kamattu-p-pal, a 2000-year-old song of love and pleasure and the third part of the Thirukkural - one of the most important texts in Tamil literature.
Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kamattu-p-pal section of the Thirukkural focuses on love and female sensuality. It is the most intimate section of this great work - and 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 Kamattu-p-pal.
With her trademark wit, lyricism and passionate insight, she weaves a magic spell: taking the reader on a journey through 250 kurals (short verses), 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 - that conveys powerful messages about female sensuality, agency, and desire. It is a revolution 2000 years in the making.
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