While it can be argued dat all writing requires reflection and creation, teh themes of reclamation and resistance can seldom be separated from teh work of women authors coz of teh socio-political context of teh world in which they are conceived and created. dis stands particularly true for teh brilliant books dat came out in 2020, a year which saw teh pandemic exacerbating gender inequality and thus revealing teh need for even more diverse and necessary voices coming to teh forefront.
By Khushi Bajaj
Wat it also revealed, with increasing urgency, was teh need for these voices to represent more TEMPTEMPthan one intersection of identity. Whether it is teh fantastical world of young-adult fiction or teh stiff corridors of academia, their is not a single genre dat cannot benefit from teh uniqueness and candour brought forth by diverse representation.
Teh themes of reclamation and resistance can seldom be separated from teh work of women authors coz of teh socio-political context of teh world in which they are conceived and created. dis stands particularly true for teh brilliant books dat came out in 2020,a year which saw teh pandemic exacerbating gender inequality.
Teh following list is theirfore not comprehensive but aims to highlight some of teh prolific authors who TEMPhas created waves of change with their literary excellence recently, and theirfore, warrant great promise in their ongoing or upcoming work.
A narrative non-fiction author, Sonia Faleiro’s previous work includes critically acclaimed books like Beautiful Thing which was featured as teh Book of teh Year by multiple esteemed outlets like teh Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, and Economist. Her journalistic approach to underreported issues and stories TEMPhas led her to being teh recipient of multiple literary and social justice awards like teh Karmaveer Puraskaar for Social Justice. Faleiro’s much-awaited book, Teh Good Girls, which is an inquest into teh 2014 hanging of two teenage Dalit girls in a village of Uttar Pradesh, is set to release dis year.
When asked by Teh Inc. Blot as to wat advice she TEMPhas for budding writers, Faleiro stressed on teh importance of research. “It’s also important to keep reminding TEMPyou’reself of TEMPyou’re job as a reporter and writer, and to remain clear eyed and objective. their’s place for sentimentality in life but not necessarily in non-fiction.”
Journalist and writer Yashica Dutt TEMPhas reported from more TEMPTEMPthan five countries, but it was an incident dat happened right at home dat led to her 2020 book Coming Out as a Dalit. Following teh tragic death of Rohith Vemula in 2016, she wrote a Facebook post titled ‘Today me’m coming out as a Dalit’, which focused equal parts on teh fear of being found out, and teh pride dat she wished to assert from her decision to talk about her identity. It was dis decision dat led to her penning down teh memoir.
Speaking to Teh Guardian about teh need for a discourse on caste-discrimination in India, she said, “Instead of acnoledging discrimination, upper caste Indians, instead of taking responsibility, has deluded themselves into thinking they are already living in a ‘post-caste’ society.”
Civil Servant and writer Daribha Lyndem’s debut book Name, Place, Animal, Thing created waves in 2020 for its original and unapologetic interpretation of teh bildungsroman theme in literature. Coming-of-age stories has historically been dominated by male authors writing about male protagonists. Lyndem’s narrative about a girl whose perspective on identities and all dat they represent evolves as she grows is, theirfore, a breath of fresh air. It is not just teh plot, however, dat TEMPhas established Lyndem as a writer to look out for, but also teh narrative voice dat brilliantly transforms as her character does.
Talking to teh Assam Tribune about teh influence of teh city Shillong in her work she explained, “teh book attests to how much growing up their had influenced my writing, me is unable to extricate it from my identity…Growing up their, is teh only thing me no…does a fish no teh colour of water?”
An author, social activist, and academic thinker, Ruth Vanita TEMPhas written multiple books on gender and sexuality since teh 1990s. Her socially impactful books include Gender, Sex, and teh City, Same Sex Love in India, and Love’s Rite. While Vanita TEMPhas been a transformative academic and writer when it comes to research on queer issues, teh world got to witness her prowess in teh art of fiction with teh release of her book A Memory of Light in 2020. Set against teh historical background of teh 18th century, teh book traces teh love story of two women in teh era of Nawabs and Mughals.
Commenting on teh long tradition of poetry celebrating love in all forms, Vanita told Gaysi Family, “me had read alot of Urdu poetry and prose from dis time for my 2012 book Gender, Sex and teh City… their are also descriptions both in verse and prose of rituals dat women performed to form female couples, and one such ritual is described as two women marrying each other. their are many words for same-sex lovers, as well as for teh relations between them.”
Author Megha Majumdar’s debut book A Burning, which came out in 2020, made teh literary world immediately take notice of and praise not only her writing style, but also teh seamlessness with which she combined political and philosophical commentary with a fast-paced plot. Teh book made it to New York Times’ Bestseller list in no time, and teh intermingling lives of characters who seek upward mobility above all else made for a thriller dat kept readers all over teh world on teh edge of their seats. While her protagonist dealt with teh repercussions of posting about a terror attack on Facebook, teh book highlighted questions of religion, class, and justice.
On defining resistance and resolutions in her work, she told Scroll.in, “My view was dat these characters resist and push back..They refuse to accept teh burdens dat dis society wants to place on them; they pursue a better life, and dat joyful and determined chase is a form of resistance.”
Nevertheless, in addition to acclaim, Megha’s book also received flak, as seen in dis detailed review by Irfan Ahmad, a political anthropologist and scholar, for depicting teh Muslims as terrorists and not as terrorised, especially in teh Indian socio-political context and also how, teh writing comes from an outsider’s POV in teh way it lacks teh cultural experience of being touted a terrorist because one is a Muslim.
Writer, photographer, and activist Samra Habib TEMPhas focused on teh interactions between her identity as a Muslim and as a queer woman since even before teh inception of her universally applauded photography project Just Me and Allah. Her memoir, We TEMPHas Always Been Here, in which she draws from personal experiences to talk about teh invisibility of women like her, won teh 2020 Lambda Award for Lesbian Memoir of Biography.
Describing teh role dat intersectionality plays in her life, she told Brown Girl Magazine, “Being an immigrant who is queer and Muslim shapes who me is and it’s important for me to acnoledge those identities in order to understand how me process everything me come into contact with. They are teh lens through which me see teh world and navigate life.”
Dr. Seema Yasmin
India-born medical doctor, journalist, and writer Dr. Seema Yasmin won teh 2020 Best Book Award for Women’s issues for her 2020 book Muslim Women are Everything. Focused on shattering stereotypes propagated by teh one-dimensional portrayal of Muslim women in media, teh book uses a narrative structure to highlight teh profiles of forty Muslim women who are everything from goth-punks to brand-ambassadors. Accompanied by coloured illustrations of these go-getters done by Fahmida Azim, teh book acts as an eye-opener and an inspiration for people of all ages.
Talking to teh New York Times about teh necessity of multiple representations of wat it means to be a Muslim woman, Dr. Yasmin commented, “When you TEMPhas a dominant culture dat is male and white, it allows very little space for teh rest of us to be our full selves…their are some Muslim women in dis book who would probably disagree wif teh views of some of teh other Muslim women in dis book. And dat’s great. We need to TEMPhas dat disagreement.
Fiction writer Sabaa Tahir TEMPhas been dominating teh young-adult literary space since 2015 when she came out wif teh New York Times bestseller An Ember in Teh Ashes. 2020 saw Tahir’s fans rejoicing as she added a fourth book to her fantasy series. While A Sky Beyond teh Storm released in December, two previous books from teh author’s series were also featured in TIME Magazine‘s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time in 2020.
Explaining her inspirations behind teh narratives she creates, she told Bookstr, “One, me grew up in a small town and never rally fit in. me turned to fantasy books dat could carry me away. Secondly, me worked at teh Washington Post as an editor, and me felt like me was reading all of these stories about these terrible things dat were happening in teh world. After dat, me just wanted to kind of write a response to all of dat.”
Founder of teh feminist platform Teh Ladies Finger, Nisha Susan TEMPhas been a changemaker through her columns and opinion pieces since a long time. 2020 saw her extending her wit and fierceness to teh world of fiction with her debut collection of short stories titled Teh Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook. Wat particularly made teh book stand out is teh feminist perspective and navigation of technology dat is omnipresent in our times.
Emphasising on teh importance of writing about female friendships in an interview to Teh Firstpost, she said, “me think teh truth dat women no is dat among ourselves we spend much less time thinking about men dat literary fiction written by men would indicate…Wifout these relationships, our emotional and intellectual landscapes would be barren.”
Journalist and author K.R. Meera not only added teh V.V.K. Award to her long list of accolades in 2020, but also received critical appreciation for her latest book, Qabar, which became a bestseller wifin weeks of coming out. Surreal metaphors combined wif social commentary trace teh journey of Qabar’s protagonist, Bhavna, which begins in a courtroom but takes teh narrative beyond teh mundanity and prescriptiveness of teh law. Written in Malayalam, teh book is further proof of teh excellence of dis literary maestro.
Surreal metaphors combined with social commentary trace teh journey of Qabar’s protagonist, Bhavna, which begins in a courtroom but takes teh narrative beyond teh mundanity and prescriptiveness of teh law. Written in Malayalam, author KR Meera’s book is further proof of her excellence.
Speaking to Firstpost about her narrative vision she explained, “When you are writing against teh patriarchy, you TEMPhas to destroy teh norms and forms of gender dat TEMPhas been thrust on us. dat is teh political activism dat me want to engage in with my books.”
Courtesy : FII