Daily Archives: January 25, 2022

Read 16 of 2022. The Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex and Sexuality in India by Madhavi Menon

The Law of Desire

Title: The Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex and Sexuality in India
Author: Madhavi Menon
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books
ISBN: 9789354471155
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 150
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Madhavi Menon breaks down sex and sexuality in relation to the law most succinctly in this pocket-sized book. This book also feels like an extension of her previous work, “Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India”, which is a work that should be widely read.

The Law of Desire is a slim book of five sections – Preamble, Criminal, Immoral, Obscene, and Unnatural – each dealing with rulings about sex and sexuality and more so thoughts on way forward. The Preamble and Amendment act as Prologue and Epilogue in a traditional sense of a book.

I like how Menon presents facts and doesn’t let her opinions come in the way, though of course there are times that she does debate with the reader, which I found quite fruitful and invigorating. Menon makes connections of religion and fundamental rights to desire and how they have nothing to do with gender to begin with.

Madhavi’s writing is simple, to the point, and peppered with examples from various other rulings, though at times it does get a little overbearing to try and recall them.

One element that I loved a lot in the book is the way Menon uses pop-culture to the benefit of the book’s topic – from movie posters, to literature, to music – all of it ties in neatly with the rulings and the cases she brings up through the course of the book.

She also tries to take the conversation away from just the binary when it comes to sex and sexuality to include the non-binary, which of course is inclusive but are far and few and in-between.

The Law of Desire is a short and insightful read on desire and how sometimes the law doesn’t even know what to do with it. It is biting, precise, and on-point. For readers who want to know more about desire and the Indian courts’ rulings, this is a good book to start with.

Read 15 of 2021. City of Incident: A Novel in Twelve Parts by Annie Zaidi

City of Incident by Annie ZaidiTitle: City of Incident: A Novel in Twelve Parts
Author: Annie Zaidi
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
ISBN: 978-9390652129
Genre: Literary Fiction, Novella
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Sometimes an author doesn’t have to say too much to make points felt, or to express emotions. I have always been taken in by the concept of vignettes in literature – of how some writers are capable of writing them to the point of distinction – each appearing as an entire universe in its own structure and some who somehow fail to achieve that and get caught in detail.

Annie Zaidi’s new offering “City of Incident: A Novel in Twelve Parts” is a great example of what to do when writing slice-of-life fiction. To be minimal – to only use words that matter and not more than what are needed – to the point of making the reader feel the claustrophobia, more so when a city such as Bombay is being described from various vantage points.

Zaidi captures people from various walks of life – people we see and sometimes fail to as we lead our lives. She speaks of conditions and circumstances quite nonchalantly – as though they don’t mean anything but don’t be fooled by the lightness – because there is so much to uncover at the end of it.

Situations are primary – highlighting them isn’t the motive of this book, I think. It is all about living and what it takes to live in a metropolis. Zaidi’s writing feels like I am in a bubble and there is no way out. From railway platforms to overcrowded trains, to homes that provide no respite, and traffic signals that make you see events you don’t want to. She documents all of it, being almost a chronicler of disappointed lives, mercurial beings, and tortured souls.

City of Incident feels like all those lives have merged together in one small book. Each life appears different and unique, only for Zaidi to make us by the end of it, feel like they all are universal – same and without distinction. City of Incident makes you stop in your tracks and observe people around you closely and with more introspection. I highly recommend this read.