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The Fabulous Feminist: A Suniti Namjoshi Reader introduces us to this wonderful writer’s works and is a must-read for any Indian feminist.
The Fabulous Feminist: A Suniti Namjoshi Reader
Review by Unmana Datta
I feel my education has been incomplete all these years, because I had never heard of Suniti Namjoshi. A feminist with Indian roots, she has explored issues of gender and sexual orientation in her writing, and The Fabulous Feminist presents excerpts from her many works.
Namjoshi has dabbled in various literary forms: this book contains fables, poems, short stories, and excerpts from novels. This might be a strange combination – for most writers, such an assortment of works would be sure to disappoint the reader. But not this one; it succeeded in satisfying my palate and whetting my appetite at the same time, leaving me determined to seek out more complete versions of her work.
The book begins with selections from Namjoshi’s Feminist Fables, and this was, for me, the most enjoyable section of the book. It entertains and shocks and thoroughly succeeds in using popular fairy tales and fables to convey subversive, feminist messages. I especially loved the retelling of The Monkey and the Crocodiles, and Broadcast Live, an account of a woman superhero, reproduced here in its entirety:
The Incredible Woman raged through the skies, lassoed a planet, set it in orbit, rescued a starship, flattened a mountain, straightened a building, smiled at a child, caught a few thieves, all in one morning, and then, took a long time off to visit her psychiatrist, since she is at heart a really womanly woman and all she wants is a normal life.
Most of her creations contain a similar mix of ironic, poignant humour. Apart from the fables, I was especially intrigued by The Mothers of Maya Diip, a novel about a matriarchal society. The three chapters here provided a narrow glimpse of how such a country might work, how men are oppressed in such a society, and how little it takes to upset the peace.
Namjoshi wrestles not only with issues of gender but also with class and race, all with a wonderfully light touch that balances social justice with the self-deprecation of a brown lesbian feminist (thrice-oppressed, as a less-oppressed white woman once informed her). Fabulous feminist, she definitely is.
Publishers: Zubaan Books
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Unmana is interested in gender, literature and relationships, and writes about everything she's interested in. She lives in, and loves, Bombay. read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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