The novel uses a non-linear narrative structure and often sexual and/or violent content, jumping between phone sex conversations, torture scenes (which seem to allude to the custodial treatment of Sri Lankan refugees), love poems, chapters set in Rwanda during the civil war, and accounts of an immortal with a penis several meters long, who performs complex rites of black magic in order to find an "Aryan yoni".
Keeping with the numerological theme of Zero Degree, the only numbers expressed in either words or symbols are numerologically equivalent to nine (with the exception of two chapters). This Oulipian ban includes the very common word one. Many sections of the book are written entirely without punctuation, or using only periods.
When it appeared, Zero Degree was more experimental by far than any previously published book in Tamil, and generated a fair amount of buzz. When the Malayalam translation came out in 1999, with a forward by prominent Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, it surprised many Malayalam readers who had thought of their own contemporary literature scene as more radical than that in Tamil.
The English translation, by Pritham K. Chakravarthy and Rakesh Khanna, was one of the first releases of Chennai-based Blaft Publications in 2008.
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