Booknotes: Writing Women’s Lives

Writing Women’s Lives is an anthology of autobiographical writing of fifty American women writers spanning the entire twentieth century — the first writer here was born in 1860 and the last in 1962. In introducing us to these writers, Susan Cahill, the editor/anthologist, described how their cultural and socio-economic diversity makes them a pleasure to read while also busting many myths around the phenomenon of “woman writer.” And I believe that we, women writers of today, need our models to turn to from time to time — if not to emulate, then to see how we are or could be different. Benchmarks, if you will, that show us whether we have managed to move beyond the traditions set by our predecessors. We also need to know and appreciate the powerful sisterhood to whom we owe so much. Continue reading Booknotes: Writing Women’s Lives

Booknotes: The Bluest Eye

With ‘The Bluest Eye’, Morrison wanted to explore racial self-contempt and how that comes about in us. In the late-60s, when the idea of different kinds of racial beauty was just beginning to be properly articulated and accepted, she wanted to show, through the life of a twelve-year-old girl, Pecola, how concepts like “ugly” become personal and how they shape personality and, therefore, life. Throughout, Morrison has also scrutinized the effects of religion, shame, classism, colonization (of the mind), gender politics, incest, child molestation, etc. To avoid dehumanizing those responsible for creating this kind of mindset in a child, Morrison has given us complex, layered characters who are, to me, almost Dickensian. I say “almost” because it is when describing the worst things that happen to or are done by some of these characters that Morrison surpasses Dickens’ pathos. Her truth is searingly honest but kind, and her kindness carefully extends to both the flaws and the virtues of these men and women. Dickens showed us who people are or can be; Morrison shows us who we are or can be. Continue reading Booknotes: The Bluest Eye

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016

Indian short films get, well, more short shrift in India and among the Indian diaspora the world over because Bollywood masala reigns supreme. Still, I am finding this to be a fascinatingly growing, evolving genre. There are some absolute gems to be found if you know where to look. Here are some of them, ranging from 8-30 minutes each, and written by Ritesh Batra, Rashida Mustafa and Suketu Mehta, Kaushal Oza, Leena Pandharkar, and Anand Gandhi. We have a street-dwelling shoeshine boy who wants to be a masterchef on TV, a woman who leaves her husband and child to be another man’s second wife, a Parsi widow trying to deal with well-meaning relatives, a 65-year-old Indian immigrant in the US trying to cope with early retirement, a cast of 15 characters connected across a single day by 2 sets of causal events that come full circle for the one who started it all off. Enjoy. I think all have English subtitles too. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016

Published: The Golden Amulet (Amazon’s Day One Literary Journal)

Of course, she could not imagine telling Girish now. Listening to him describing the meeting with Panditji to Nitin and Kathleen a couple nights ago, mentioning the miscarriages as if they had been routine business failures that simply needed better planning rather than magical protection, her secret had burrowed deeper. She was sure that if he found out, he would make a scene. There would be yelling in rapid-fire English, which she had never been able to match. Once, when she had tried, he had stopped in midstream and laughed at her accented, halting attempt until he could hardly breathe. Never again, she had promised herself, preferring to absorb the bullet-like words he hailed down on her when he had his stormy fits. Continue reading Published: The Golden Amulet (Amazon’s Day One Literary Journal)

The Winter of American Discontent

History books will be analyzing this Presidential win from many angles for many reasons and over many decades. A complete political outsider, without much support from his own party, won against a complete political insider who had her party’s full support. The disenfranchised voter surge for him laid bare our deep class, race, and gender divides — but, more than anything, it made clear that non-college whites up and down the country categorically reject the status quo. Continue reading The Winter of American Discontent