Tears in God's Own Country

Tears in God's Own Country

Tears in God's Own Country revolves around a 26-year-old chenda kettledrum player who dreams of performing at Carnegie Hall. The residents of Alumaram Village in the South Indian state of Kerala call him Chenda because of his love for the chenda music. Kerala is known as God's Own Country.

In the evenings, Chenda enthralls the villagers with his kettledrum music at the village junction near the landmark banyan tree. When not playing music, he ekes out a living by delivering and chopping firewood.

Chenda is dark-skinned. Black. Hence, he is deemed a low-caste parayan and is shunned by the predominantly brown and light-skinned villagers. The local music groups won't include him; parents won't let their daughters marry him; and upper-caste villagers won't invite him to their homes. However, an elderly Brahmin woman defies the caste system and accommodates him on her back porch.

To obtain an Indian passport and a U.S. visa-the first step toward fulfilling his dream-Chenda needs the support of a public official. So, he urges the manager of a herbal medical store to run for office. But the manager has other plans.

In his ambition to win, the manager incites Hindu-Muslim conflicts with an eye on the majority of Hindu votes. Distraught, Chenda confronts the manager. The following day, Chenda is found stabbed to death. The police won't investigate because the deceased is a parayan.

Suddenly, the villagers realize that no one knows Chenda's real name, his parents, religion, or caste. The village barber, Big-legged Appu, sets out to find Chenda's relatives so they can claim the body. His search takes him on different routes in Chenda's life.

Through Chenda's story, Tears in God's Own Country paints a vivid picture of 1960s India and highlights the follies of colorism, caste system, and religious fanaticism that are still prevalent today. These issues are universal, not unique to India.

The symbolism in the novel doesn't go unnoticed.


Publication Date: 
December 1, 2022
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