Late at night, Kumarasurar’sphone rings shrilly. His teenage son is calling. What could he want?
A seemingly simple demand torments Kumarasurar, who fears it might put his finances—and perhaps his son’s life—in jeopardy. As a father’s anxieties unravel, his memories undermine his self-worth and imaginary scenes of damnation taunt him.
Estuary brings alive the different ways—absurd and endearing by turns—in which a man and his young son navigate the contemporary world. In the process, it peels back the layers of Kumarasurar’s loneliness: the hurt of a married man whose wife cares only for the happiness of their child, the endless monotony of an office job, and the struggle of the salaried middle-class to give their children the best chance of success.
Perumal Murugan’s latest novel, his first in an urban setting, is also a razor-sharp parody of everything from e-commerce to the fitness industry, art appreciation to political manipulation, cram schools to social networks. Through a meditative exploration of a father’s emotional landscape, Murugan tells of a world wrecked by unchecked consumerism and an obsession with growth, where technology overrides common sense and degrees don’t guarantee education. And, with characteristic tenderness, he also weaves in a way to redemption.