Books, tea and discussing gay literature in Chennai
The body of queer literature in the country is a slow-growing one, with new anthologies, novels, poetry, biographies, graphic works and academic treatises building it up every year. It’s a body nourished, naturally, by a growing readership for such literature. And wherebooks and readers exist, there’s bound to be a book club.
In Chennai, such a club goes by the name Orinam’s Quilt, a reference to Ismat Chugtai’s 1941 short story ‘Lihaaf’ (The Quilt), as well as a portmanteau of the term Queer Literature.
On the last Saturday of every month, a group of around 12 to 15 members and supporters of the queer community in Chennai gather in a coffee shop in Adyar with a stack of published queer literature and sheaves of their own writing. Over the next couple of hours, they wade into the depth of queer writing, buoyed by cups of ginger tea and well-browned patties, eddying from one topical island to the next in the archipelago of gender minority concerns.