Author CS Lakshmi on detective fiction, feminism and celebrating women


“Ambai is a character in the Mahabharata who becomes Shikhandi, a man, later,” says CS Lakshmi, 72, while describing her pen name.

She chose to write under a pen name because when she set out to write in the 1960s, every girl born on a Friday back home was named Lakshmi.

The Tamil feminist writer and researcher, today, half a century later, continues to play an important role in strengthening the bond of sisterhood and propelling the movement for women empowerment.

Through her organisation, SPARROW, which is India’s only women’s archives, and her writings – recently a foray into the world of detective fiction intertwined with everyday experiences of being a woman titled A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge – she has created a body of work which is quietly combative and vociferously encouraging.

How did you get the idea of writing detective fiction?

The idea came from the mysteries surrounding life and relationships in a big city like Mumbai. It is a city that has, like its complicated network of transport, complex ways of life within which people live, love, hate and laugh.

The book investigates the trials women face and repress – from the sexual entitlement of men to the imposition of “traditional” women roles. Read more