Tag Archives: women writers

Book Excerpt: A Plate of White Marble by Bani Basu (Translated from Bengali by Nandini Guha)

A glimpse from A Plate of White Marble originally written by Bani Basu in Bengali as Swet Patharer Thala and translated by Nandia Guha (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020)

There was no consolation. Yet Bandana repeatedly read the  letter from one end to the other. She remembered everything— from holding Kaka’s hand and going to attend Gandhiji’s  lectures in Deshbandhu Park to putting coins in the trunks of  elephants and looking at giraffes at the zoo. She could easily  picture those cold Sunday mornings when they used to reach  Esplanade, peeling oranges all the way. Kaka smoked very  strong cigarettes. The fingers of his right hand were yellow with  nicotine stains. When Bandana was small, she was under the  impression that all Kakas would have coppery yellow fingertips. 

A Kaka surely meant someone in whom this feature was an  integral part, inseparable from his image. 

When her mother died young, Kaka immediately decided  not to marry and start a family. Baba had tried to persuade him  to change his decision. Kaka had the same argument every  time, ‘Dada, this child is so naughty, you will never be able to  manage her on your own. If this girl is to be brought up well, I  will have to join you in taking charge of her.’ 

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Reading Kamala Das’ Summer in Calcutta in the 21st Century: Anushree Joshi

Anushree Joshi takes us through interrogation and confrontation of Gender Roles in Kamala Das’ works in this literary essay

Abstract

This paper attempts to analyze the feminist tones in the poetry of Indian-English writer and poet, Kamala Das, particularly focusing on the expression and problematization of gender roles in her 1965 poetry collection, Summer in Calcutta. It argues that her gendered identity manifests itself in her poetic style and aesthetic, wherein she questions the patriarchal expectations of gender – of women rooted in immanence and domesticity and of men rooted in transcendence and the public sphere. The custom of arranged marriage, domestic emotional abuse, confinement to the private sphere of domesticity, and daunting standards of feminine beauty, are some of the gendered expectations in the Indian woman’s experience that Das’ poetry interrogates. The confessional movement of poetry in the West, iconized in the poetry of women writers like Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, also appears to influence Das’ mode of expression, since she emphasizes on the ‘I’ in her poems, while voicing the experience of not only her own self, but also of women as a community who have been disenfranchised socially, linguistically, politically, or culturally due to the gendered roles and expectations imposed upon them.


Keywords: gender roles, confessional poetry, domesticity, Kamala Das, feminist

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Sita’s Sisters: Texts of resistance and resilience

Dr. Sutanuka Ghosh Roy explores Sanjukta Dasgupta’s Sita’s Sisters calling it a poet’s exhortation of womanhood.

  • Page: 80
  • ISBN: 978-93-87883-89-5 ( Paperback)
  • Edition: (2019)
  • Published by  Hawakal Publishers, Kolkata-India.
  • Price: INR 300. $11.99

             Sita’s Sisters is the sixth book of poetry by Sanjukta Dasgupta, former professor, head and dean, faculty of Arts, Calcutta University. She is a poet, critic and translator. She is the recipient of numerous national and international grants and fellowships and has lectured, taught and read her poems in India, Europe, USA and Australia. She is a member of the General Council of Sahitya Akademi New Delhi and Convenor of the English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi. Her published books include Snapshots (poetry), Dilemma (poetry), First Language (poetry), More Light (poetry), Her Stories (translations), Manimahesh (translation), Media, Gender and Popular Culture in India: Tracking Change and Continuity, SWADES—Tagore’s Patriotic Songs (translation), Abuse and Other Short Stories, Lakshmi Unbound (poetry) 2017.

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“Beauty and creativity coexisted with all the difficult realities of the city!” – Taran N Khan

Team Kitaab is in conversation with Taran N. Khan, the author of Shadow City (Published by Penguin India, 2020) where we discuss Kabul, her love for the city and her fascination for it which led to this book.

Taran N. Khan is a journalist and non-fiction writer based in Mumbai. Her writing has appeared in GuernicaAl JazeeraBerfroisHimal SouthasianGulf News and Dagsavisen, as well as in leading publications in India like The CaravanOpenThe Hindu and Scroll.in. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Logan Non-Fiction Program, Jan Michalski Foundation and Pro Helvetia. From 2006 to 2013, Khan spent long periods living and working in Kabul. Shadow City is her first book.

Taran N. Khan’s Shadow City is a fascinating read on Kabul. Interestingly, the first thing, Khan, was told when she reached Kabul, was to never venture for a walk. And that is exactly what she did- explore the city through walks, which further led to this book.

From “I have a complicated relationship with walking…” to writing a book on exploring an entire city through a series of walks. Has writing this book redefined walks/walking for her, we wondered. To which Khan says, “The book was shaped in part by this complicated relationship, which is still evolving. During the recent lockdown in Mumbai, for instance, I was not able to walk as often as I used to. When I did go out, it felt like a different terrain. Emptied of its crowds, the bare bones of the metropolis emerged, and I could see features that had always existed, but had been invisible to me.”

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Short Story: The Attack by Reba Khatun

TBASS

Labli was woken up by the dawn chorus. It was hard not to smile at the chirping of the sweet birds. She grabbed her long scarf from the foot of the bed and threw it over her head. Brushing back a loose strand of black hair from her forehead, she opened the door quietly so as not to disturb her younger brother, Joynal. He still had a few hours of sleep before waking up to go to school.The door squeaked as she pulled it shut behind her.

Labli looked down at her red shalwar kameez and tried to brush out the creases. It didn’t look as rumpled as it had before. Anyway, it would have to do; her only other set was still drying in the kitchen after yesterday’s thunderstorm.

As she felt her way along the cold, dark hallway, she noticed her parents’ bedroom door was ajar. Her mother was stirring on the bed; her father’s place was empty. Labli unlocked the front door and made her way to the tube well at the bottom of the veranda steps. The air was crisp and cool. Doel birds flapped overhead and one landed in one of the betel palm trees, lifting its white tail as it whistled. The Adhan, the call to prayer, blared out over the masjid’s loudspeakers. She filled up a plastic jug with water and made ablution. After praying the four units of the dawn prayer, she collected firewood from around the courtyard and milked the cow. She had just lit the fire when her mother walked into the kitchen. Read more

Vertebrate Publishing’s new climb: Bringing adventuring women into the picture

(From Publishing Perspectives. Link to the complete post given below)

The UK’s Vertebrate Publishing is an independent house that focuses on mountain biking and climbing—sports found near its base in Sheffield. And its managing director, Jon Barton, can describe Vertebrate in a way that few publishers today might be able to match: the house has a strong, stable consumer base of male readers.

But given current events, Barton is heading down a new path in his trail-fans’ title list.

Waymaking, an anthology about women’s outdoor adventuring, is a new release set for October 4.

The book is edited by Claire Carter, Helen Mort, Heather Dawe, and Camilla Barnard, and it’s about “redressing the balance of gender in outdoor adventure literature” according to the company’s promotional material.

With writings from Katie Ives, Bernadette McDonald, Sarah Outen, Anna McNuff, filmmaker Jen Randall, and other accomplished women adventurers, the book is meant to jibe with “an era when wilderness conservation and gender equality are at the fore.”

In Publishing Perspectives’ exchange with Barton, our first question was whether the anthology, rather than being a one-time token event, marks a new direction he intends to pursue.

“A very big yes,” he says. “Mountaineering literature specifically, and adventure lit in general, is horribly underrepresented by women.”

“Some of this has to do with strong female role models arriving late in the day,” Barton says, “so their story—and stories they’re inspiring—are still evolving.

“And a lot of it has to do with publishing and market habits. Waymaking is a stepping stone along the way for us.”

Read more at the Publishing Perspectives link here

Where would we be without the words of Japanese women?

In Japan, female writers are stars within the country’s literary sphere, even if on the international stage their light seems to pale in comparison to the post-war wave of recognized, male writers such as Yukio Mishima (1925-70) or Haruki Murakami.

The contributions of female writers to Japan’s tradition of literature is immense. Looking through history, there are a number of examples of female writers who have outlasted their male compatriots to embed themselves in the annals of the present. While male writers such as Mishima and Murakami are deserved in their celebration, so too must we look toward Japan’s female canon.

Female Japanese writers have already proved their staying power. The two most famous works in classical literature during the Heian Period (794-1185) were both penned by women: “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu and “The Pillow Book” by Sei Shonagon. As with the beginnings of other literary traditions around the world, Japan, too, has its war epics (most notably the anonymously penned “The Tale of the Heike”), but ultimately it is the work of these women on the sidelines of the era that has proved most enduring.

Both “The Tale of Genji” and “The Pillow Book” illuminate court life; the intrigues and strategic maneuvering off the battlefield that defined the Heian Period in an arguably more complete, more complex rendering than the stark absolutes of war. “The Tale of Genji” is considered the world’s first novel; “The Pillow Book” showcases a distinctive Japanese genre, a blend of essays, lists, poetry and vignettes mimicking fragmented thought called zuihitsu, a style still popular today.

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10 Must Read Women Writers From The Middle East

The tradition of female writers from the Middle-East has been vastly growing in the twentieth century, with new generations of writers determined to give women a voice and represent issues regarding feminism, identity and class from a female perspective. From fiction to non-fiction writers, we profile ten fantastic female writers from the Middle-East. Layla Baalbaki

 

Widely acknowledged to be a pioneer in women’s writing in the Middle-East, Layla Baalbaki was one of the first writers to give women a voice in Arab literature, focusing primarily on female issues. Her 1958 novel I Live is a work far ahead of its time, revolving around a young Lebanese woman as she attempts to negotiate her place in the world; striving for political, social and financial independence. Sadly, Baalbaki’s honest exploration of women’s innermost emotions was met with controversy and hostility and she was charged with obscenity and immorality. Although eventually acquitted, Baalbaki wrote no works of fiction after 1964 and turned instead to journalism.

A noted Algerian feminist author, Assia Djebar is well known for examining the plight of Algerian women within a post-colonial context. Her works include the collection of short stories Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (1980), inspired by Delacroix’s famous The Women of Algiers (1834). These respond to the Orientalist and patriarchal structures surrounding contemporary Algerian society and attempt to demonstrate the ongoing inequality which defines women’s lives. Djebar was elected to the Académie Française – a historic organization which seeks to uphold and protect French heritage and language – in 2005, the first Magreb writer to receive this honor.

Born and raised in Baghdad, where she studied journalism at university, Inaam Kachachi moved to Paris in 1979, where she has lived ever since. As well as regularly writing pieces for Arabic-language newspapers, Kachachi has published several novels which examine issues of displacement and homeland, as well as the brutal reality of Iraq today. Frustrated by the religious and didactic turn literature in Iraq has taken, Kachachi attempts to authentically portray complex characters in the Iraq which she experienced. Her most recent novel Tashari (2013) stretches back to the 1950s and explores the changing sociopolitical dynamic of the country through one family and their eventual dispersal across the globe. This novel was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

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Myanmar: Women talk sex, censorship at literary forum

By Lillian Kalish

Filmmaker Emily Hong once said that the very act of a woman holding a camera in the streets of Yangon – by nature of its rare and provocative nature – is performance art. When women move and work in ways which counter the expectations of society, they open up new avenues for discussion, community and the transferring of knowledge.

That notion forms the framework for this weekend’s inaugural Ingyin Literary Forum, a four-day event dedicated to Myanmar women writers. Hosted by Yaw Min Gyi’s Ngarse / 50 community centre, the forum blossomed out of a desire to share experiences: Its title is derived from the name of the Bodhi tree’s flowers, which bloomed overhead at the birth of Buddha and have come to represent the sharing of knowledge.  Read more

Source: The Myanmar Times

 

The language of (female) friendship is what we have left for the next generation: Tamil writer Ambai

ambai-bk

Tamil writer Ambai on writing detective fiction, why men come first in any literary history and the unacknowledged legacy of women’s lives.

At first, the stories in A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge (Juggernaut, Rs 399) seem like a departure from your usual writing. But you’re actually using the tropes of detective fiction to delve into people’s lives.

I was interested in exploring the complexities of a city like Mumbai. People are always caught up in love or crime or in deciding what the future is going to be like. I thought it would be interesting to have stories with a woman private detective, who is doing routine detective work. It [provides] my character, Sudha Gupta, with many ways of looking at people’s lives.

Have you always been interested in detective stories?

I enjoy reading detective stories. Not crime thrillers as such, but there are certain stories which also have a lot of human elements. The detective fiction of Agatha Christie and even Arthur Conan Doyle, or Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler talk about the human frailties that lead to crime. Read more

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