Book Review: ‘Where God Began’ by Appadurai Muttulingam and Kavitha Muralidharan

A Poignant Journey of Resilience and Belonging

Book Title: Where God Began
Author: Appadurai Muttulingam
Translator: Kavitha Muralidharan
Publisher: Eka
Number of Pages: 176
ISBN: 978-9357769013
Date Published: Jan. 8, 2024
Price: INR 410

Where God Began by Appadurai Muttulingam and Kavitha Muralidharan Book Cover

Book Review

Where God Began” (Kadavul Thodangiya Idam), originally written in Tamil by Appadurai Muttulingam and translated into English by Kavitha Muralidharan, is a moving story about the tumultuous journey of Tamil migrants from Eleam, capturing their resilience and struggles as they navigate life in different countries. The Tamil version was first serialized in Ananda Vikatan Weekly in 2011. Vikatan Publications released this intriguing tale in 2012.

A. Muttulingam is a prominent writer in modern Tamil literature. His works, which include short stories, articles, interviews, and novels, are distinguished by humor, artistic appeal, and formal precision. He was born in Sri Lanka and is a storyteller who has traversed the world for work, capturing the many cultures of the places he has visited, as well as their people and incongruities, in his writing. He established the Tamil Literary Garden (Tamil Illakiya Thottam) in Canada.

The story revolves around the protagonist, Nishant, and takes place between 1992 and 2003, showing his harrowing journey from the Sri Lankan hamlet of Kuplan to Canada. Nishant’s risky voyage offers an insight into the lives of many refugees, highlighting the challenges they endure and the resilience they display in the face of adversity. The narrative is a recounting of the experiences of Sri Lankan nationals who have been compelled to travel similar distances to become refugees. The novel is a compassionate and captivating recounting of millions of identical events, each with a unique road to the same end.

What distinguishes “Where God Began” from other works in Eelam literature is its delicate yet powerful narrative approach. Unlike many other novels that take a spectacular or overtly political tone, this work takes a more nuanced look at the human mind during migration, across chronological and cultural barriers.

The novel offers a worldwide perspective via Nishant’s tale, crossing numerous nations and providing insights into the common features of migration. It avoids a narrow emphasis on contemporary political tensions, instead delving into timeless topics like displacement and the need for belonging.

As the story progresses, viewers are presented with the terrible reality that migrants experience, from risky travels to bureaucratic obstacles. Despite the difficulties, there are moments of consolation and togetherness, demonstrating the persistence of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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Finally, “Where God Began” is a moving tribute to the tenacious human spirit and the worldwide need for a place to call home. This work, with its evocative writing and intelligent description of the refugee experience, provides a captivating and tragic investigation of one of today’s most serious topics.

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