Leave a comment

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.

Read More

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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.

Read More


Leave a comment

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

 


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Author CS Lakshmi on detective fiction, feminism and celebrating women

cs-lakshmi

“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


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

‘Year of reading women’ declared for 2014

Bias towards male writers – underlined in 2013 study – fuels drive to switch attention to female authors: The Guardian

From a small American literary journal’s vow to dedicate a year’s coverage to women writers and writers of colour to author and artist Joanna Walsh’s burgeoning  #readwomen2014 project, readers – and publishers – around the world are starting to take their own small steps to address male writers’ dominance in the literary universe. Continue reading


Leave a comment

India: Writers brainstorm on role of women in literature

Are all women writers essentially feminist, and is women’s writing a separate entity? These were two questions thrown up by the keynote speaker and noted Odiya writer Pratibha Ray at the seventh Women Writers’ Conference of the Karnataka Lekhakiyara Sangha, an organisation of like-minded women writers in the State.

Ms. Ray’s questions are as old as the organisation itself, when back in 1979 a group of women decided to organise themselves into a sangha to promote works by women writers and inspire young women. Answering her question, Ms. Ray emphasised that all writers are feminists, because “inherently a good piece of writing questions the social order, and in spirit, protests against that which is wrong”. “In that sense, all writers are feminists. And while women’s writing is not a separate entity, women writers are able to bring in different kinds of sensibilities and life experiences into their writing.”

Read More