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These fearless female Indian authors refused to let the patriarchy drown their voices. Have you read them yet?
I wrote this piece at a time when the entire nation was celebrating International Women’s Day. Social media platforms, campaigns and protests were suffused with the theme, #EachForEqual.
On this occasion, being a writer myself, I wanted to talk about some famous and fabulous women writers who are known for their fearless writing. These female Indian authors, in one way or another, have never shied away from slapping the face of the patriarchy that tried to suppress their voice. Their writing brings hope to this society.
“Another world is not only possible, she us on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”
Speaking about fearless perspectives and tongue-in-cheek writing, the very first name that comes to our minds is none other than Arundhati Roy. Her debut novel, The God Of Small things won her the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 1997. Her writing reveals her deep interest towards social issues.
After her first book, she mostly concentrated on political activism and collectively written non fiction. When Roy’s second novel was released in 2017, almost after 20 years, it right away got a nomination for the Man Booker Prize. The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness also deals with social issues that dominate our society.
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal upon where you stand.”
I came to know about Kamala Das in my late teens, when I came across an article about the author. Her outspoken nature is reflected in her writings. Popularly known by her one time pen name Madhavikutty, a name that ruled the hearts of Malayalam readers, her writings pierced through the society that dominated women but gained her equal haters among the misogynists. However, nothing bothered Madhavikutty, she poured out her fearless thoughts on the development of women and children until her last breath,
I ask this myself a thousand times, have I done what I could have done?
Mahasweta Devi, the Indian fiction writer who inspired many others through her power packed writings in Bengali, was also a socio-political activist who transformed lives of many people. Her columns for various publications spoke out for the rights and empowerment of tribal people, particularly women. The Sahitya Akademi Award and Jnanpith Award are some of the high honours awarded to her for her impactful literary work, that includes gems such as Hajar Churashir Maa, Rudali, and Aranyer Adhikar.
“My honour is not in my Vagina”
Kamla Bhasin is all in one, a poet, author, social scientist and a feminist who speaks for the rights of women across the country. Gender equality is the prime focus of this author’s writing. Kamla Bhasin is closely associated with Sangat – A Feminist Network and is also the South Asia coordinator of One Billion Rising.
“Women without men, then I realised, are totally different creatures.”
Shashi Deshpande is a Padma Shri recipient as well as a Sahitya Academy Award winner. Her contribution towards contemporary English literature is notable. Most of her works are deeply rooted in the relationship issues and conflicts that predominate Indian society. The author also strongly explores the anguish and agony of independent modern women caught by the shackle of patriarchy. Some of her noted works includes The Dark Holds No Terrors and The Long Silence.
Ismat Chughtai is well known for her work as a novelist, short story writer, and filmmaker. Most of her work focuses extensively on gendered themes including female sexuality and femininity. The issues that surfaced among the middle class were touched with great intensity. Thus Ismat Chughtai established herself as a significant voice in Urdu literature, with a Marxist perspective subtly embedded in her work. Her works such as Garm Hawa were transformed into films that won her many awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1976.
“When a man is denying the power of a woman, he is denying his own subconscious”.
Amrita Pritam, is one of the most prominent female poets from Punjab who gave birth to more than 100 books consisting of fiction and poetry. All her works have been translated to many other Indian as well as foreign languages. Amrita Pritam is considered as one of the most important voices that raise the contribution of women in Punjabi literature. She is the recipient of the most prestigious awards including the Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi and the Jnanpith Awards.
Tarabai Shinde was a Marathi feminist activist and writer who protested patriarchy and caste in 19th century India. She is known for her published work, Stripurush Tulana (‘A Comparison Between Women and Men’), in the form of pamphlets attacking upper-caste patriarchy, and is often considered the first modern Indian feminist.
Female writers with a power packed writing style on issues like gender discrimination and feminism are growing stronger day by day. The above list of female Indian authors are those who have had a great impact on my life. The list may be different for you, but almost all of them held the same purpose – of devolving more power to the hands that rock the cradle, because they are no less eligible to rule the world!
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An avid reader and an obsessive book collector. Wandering into the realm of thoughts weaving
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