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Queen Mother Kunti reflects on her life as a pawn in the hands of time. A revolutionary warrior mulls over the choices she has made. A tree talks to her daughter in a dystopian future. Draupadi tells her mother-in-law to speak up. A woman beats up an abusive husband. Or does she? These 15 stories by women reflect some of the quiet joys as well as deepest fears of Indian women today.
Drawing inspiration from leading contemporary female authors in India today, including Anuja Chauhan, Anita Nair, Jaishree Misra and Jhumpa Lahiri, every month, readers of Women’s Web (www.womensweb.in), a digital platform that tells women’s stories, sent in their own writing. These 15 shortlisted stories represent the very best of the short fiction published on the site in 2016. These stories that emerge from the reality of women’s lives will resonate with women and men everywhere.
The authors whose stories feature in this book, including Agamonee Barbaruah. Ashima Jain, bhavani, Deepa Arun, Kasturi Patra, Mehreen Shaikh, Nikita Jhanglani, Pooja Sharma Rao, Priya Mani, Sonali Dyal, Sunandita Roy and Vijayalakshmi Harish are all part of the contemporary set of bright new authors taking Indian writing in English to new directions, and expanding on the work of their foremothers. Many of them experiment with explicitly feminist themes, but in very creative ways; their feminism is often intersectional, looking as it does not just at the concerns of women, but of children, the earth, the dispossessed, the elderly and the underprivileged. While some of their writing may be to do with what one may call ‘serious issues’, the focus remains squarely on creative interpretations of the themes they choose to work around.
It has been a labour of love right from the choosing of the cue, from books I have loved. I personally went through each of these stories, and the 5 winners were chosen with our Editor-in-Chief, Aparna. 15 of the best among these winners over 12 months were chosen for the book. These are certainly some of the most talented writers of India.
-Sandhya Renukamba (Editor)
From Kunti to Meera who takes a rod in her hand to hit a wife beater, all the characters feel like we know them. As if they are telling our tales or tales we know. The characters smell of stories from our own backyard. Each story tells the story of love, longing, failing, courage and desires that makes us humane.
-Paromita Bardoloi (Writer)
Women have always been the story tellers of the family and with access to digital media it is befitting that women rise up to the mantle of being story tellers and share their stories with the world.
-Aparna Vedapuri Singh (Chief Editor)
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