In 1992 when a Dalit woman left the convent and wrote her autobiography, the Tamil publishing industry found her language unacceptable. So Bama Faustina published her milestone work Karukku privately in 1992-a passionate and important mix of history, sociology, and the strength to remember.
Karukku broke barriers of tradition in more ways than one. The first autobiography by a Dalit woman writer and a classic of subaltern writing, it is a bold and poignant tale of life outside mainstream Indian thought and function. Revolving around the main theme of caste oppression within the Catholic Church, it portrays the tension between the self and the community, and presents Bama’s life as a process of self-reflection and recovery from social and institutional betrayal.
The English translation, first published in 2000 and recognized as a new alphabet of experience, pushed Dalit writing into high relief. This second edition includes a Postscript in which Bama relives the dramatic movement of her leave-taking from her chosen vocation and a special note ‘Ten Years Later’.