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Counterview: Urvashi Butalia’s rejoinder to AR Venkatachalapathy on women publishers and editors

Long years ago, when I began working in publishing, it was an almost entirely male world. Women were to be found in some publishing houses, but mainly in administrative and secretarial positions. The bosses were all men – at least in English language publishing in India – and so were the editors. There was something about their anatomy that seemed to qualify them more to work in the business of creating and disseminating knowledge – an activity that is generally governed by the brain, something that lies between the ears (and not the legs) and looks the same no matter what sort of bodily shell it’s placed in.

As women, we – the handful of us who joined the industry at that time and who slowly made our way to becoming editors – knew well we would never rise to the top of our professions. My bosses at the Oxford University Press were concerned that I was a woman: “We’ve never employed a woman in an executive position,” they told me. “They get married and go away.” They made it sound like a crime – one, clearly, that the men never had to answer for.

The Oxford University Press, where I began work, was filled with kind and caring men: Charles Lewis, Santosh Mukherjee, Ravi Dayal, Adil Tyabji, Adrian Bullock, Dipen Mitra. Yet none of them ever had to answer to the kind of questions posed to me. None of them needed to worry about how they would get home at night if they had to work late. None of them needed to be concerned about the safety of seedy hotel rooms when they travelled on business. None of them had to defend themselves against leering printers who wanted to take you out to coffee when all you wanted was to get a book printed. Not surprising then that their paths to the top were smooth, whereas ours were non-existent.

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The Books We Made review: Kali for Women gets its worthy place in the history of feminism

Filmmakers Anupama Chandra and Uma Tanuku take us through the journey of the feminist publication formed during the women’s rights movements of the 1980s.

Anupama Chandra and Uma Tanuku take us through the journey of the significant contributors to the feminist movement in India in the 1980s and 1990s — Kali for Women, the publication house founded by Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon.

The Public Service Broadcasting Trust production explores the feminist publication house’s inception in 1984, its landmark books and their authors, challenges and its closure in 2003.

The documentary opens with Butalia’s room, which is overflowing with books. “I always keep books by women… always,” she says, while explaining how she decides which books to keep and which ones to let go. Images of books invariably appear throughout the film, sometimes tucked away neatly in a shelf and at times in the hands of the authors as they read lines from their own works.

The story of inception in black and white footage; the founders’ interviews generating nostalgia as they reveal their humble beginnings in a garage, the designing of the logo by Chandralekha, a dancer, and the lack of profits through most of the years.

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Words that capture the dreams and thoughts of women

By Henna Rakheja

Think of Indian women writers and names such as Mahasweta Devi and Ismat Chughtai immediately come to mind. Powerful as they were, theirs are among the few glittering names of women in the galaxy of Indian authors. The vast majority of women writers in India don’t get the recognition that they often deserve. One of the primary reasons is the absence of a platform.

It is to fill this vacuum that for the first time, a Women Writers’ Festival is being organised in the city (New Delhi).

“There are a lot of women who are working on women’s issues, but there is no platform where they can come together to discuss [their work] and very little resource that they can access. Many women writers just remain unsung heroes,” says Anuradha Das Mathur, founder of the festival.

At the two-day literature festival, there will be panel discussions and talks by speakers such as Monika Halan, Bahar Dutt, Aparna Jain, Veenu Venugopal, Mala Bhargava, Yashodhara Lal, Urvashi Butalia, Nishita Jha, Bee Rowlatt, Amrita Tripathi, Shaili Chopra, Sonia Golani, Shreyasi Singh and others. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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3 Indian writers to attend Lahore fest

By Simran Sodhi

While the India-Pakistan deadlock continues over hardcore political issues, visible signs of detente have begun to emerge in areas of cultural and soft diplomacy.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to The Tribune that three Indian authors will be attending the Lahore literary festival starting February 24. The three-day event will see the participation of a number of celebrated writers and thinkers from all over South Asia.

British journalist Anita Anand and historian William Dalrymple will also be in attendance to discuss their new book Kohinoor. Interestingly, the International Advisory Committee for the Lahore Fest 2017 comprises Maina Bhagat of the Apeejay Kolkata Literature Fest and Namita Gokhale of the Jaipur Literature Festival, among others. This comes close on the heels of the previous ice breaker in the relationship with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations sponsoring four Indian authors to the Karachi literary festival held from February 10-12; known Indian author Urvashi Butalia was among those present. Read more

Source: Tribune India

 


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Book Review: The Gypsy Goddess by Meena Kandasamy

Spare, incandescently passionate, straining conventions, Meena Kandasamy reignites the Kilvenmany massacre: Urvashi Butalia in The Outlook

Gypsy GoddessThe Gypsy Goddess is clever, serious, witty, devastating, unusual and breathtakingly varied. In the first 30 or 40 pages, you read your way through the author’s anxieties about how to tell her chosen story. As this somewhat exten­ded, witty reflection on the writer’s relationship to the story, her choices of the standpoints from where to construct the narrative closes, you find you are already acquainted with the characters you will now meet, and indeed how the story will unfold. Continue reading


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India: Making women write

Like racism, sexism is also one of the most disturbing issues which is largely present in the society. Discrimination based on gender has crept into all forms of life, including literature. While this has changed to a large extent, with more women writers coming up, Urvashi Butalia, co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house, feels that it has not always been the case and women have had to face a huge battle from within to gain recognition in the field of literature. Continue reading


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India: Cyber City to host its first literature meet

Now Gurgaon will have its festival too: TOI

The disparate but symbiotic worlds of technology and literature will converge next weekend as Cyber City hosts its first art and literary festival, Gliterarti, on December 13 and 14.

Presented by The Times of India, the festival, which is an initiative of Real Estate Development Council (REDCO) Haryana, will include exhibitions of art, photography and sculptures; live art and art auctions; workshops on art appreciation, cartoon-making and creative writing. Continue reading