Outcaste ( Brushte in the original Malayalam) is a powerful story of the revenge a single woman named Paptikutty wreaks on her community for the monstrous injustice done to her. It is based on the 1905 trial of a Namboodiri woman for adultery and the revenge she exacted on her sixty-four lovers, who belonged to the most powerful families of the land. In the novel, Paptikutty is an avatar of Goddess Kali herself, bringing justice and revolution wherever there is corruption and sin.
The Namboodiri Brahmins were the most powerful community in Kerala in the period in which the novel is set, more powerful than the King himself. Bound by rigid customs and rules, they silenced everyone who opposed them in their quest for more wealth and power. Namboodiri women were confined to the inner quarters of the house, where they lived in squalor and degradation. The influence of the Namboodiris grew unchecked until the end of the nineteenth century, when Paptikutty’s act of vengeance weakened the community from within. Passionate and gripping, Outcaste is an unforgettable indictment of the injustices perpetuated by upper caste men—a continuing problem in Indian society.