Meena’s harrowing debut novel, The Gypsy Goddess, tells the story of the real-life massacre in the village of Kilvenmani, South India, in 1986.
Triggered by a protest held by agricultural labourers, including women and children, over the lack of food they received, a group of landowners barricaded 44 workers in a hut which they then set on fire, killing everyone inside. Such horrific subject matter makes for challenging reading, for which the author makes no apologies.
Told from the differing perspectives of the parties involved in the tragedy, Kandasamy explores the long-standing conflict between the Communist Party, who encouraged workers in the village to strike, and the landowners, who sought to protect their own interests at any cost. Through the voice of her witty narrator, Meena addresses the difficulties of writing about the shocking events that occurred for a 21st century audience.