Tag Archives: women writers

Is It The Same For You? by Priya Sebastian and Neha Singh

Is It The Same For You? by Priya Sebastian and Neha Singh

Title: Is It The Same for You?
Authors: Priya Sebastian and Neha Singh
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN: 978-0857426963
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 24 
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 5 stars 

Young girls in conflict zones perhaps face so much more than we know of or will ever know. What do they think? What do they feel? When does childhood end and the reality of being where you are hits you hard? What do governments have to account for then, when innocence is lost way before time? Is it the Same for You in its most raw form asks all these questions, making the reader constantly reflect with every turn of the page.
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Priya Sebastian and Neha Singh take different moments of a young girl’s life in Kashmir and bring them to fore. Amidst all the conflict (political and religious) and terror, the question remains that is it the same for all young girls out there? How is it when their bodies change? The book looks at shards of life – the ones that are rarely come about – when the not so normal becomes normal, when you get used to what you aren’t supposed to get used to, and life is lived just on the sidelines.
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Neha Singh’s text coupled with Priya Sebastian’s most stunning illustrations will constantly haunt you. Each page of sparse text is a story with so many layers and so much to see. The girl who takes comfort in the assumption that maybe this is what it is for all girls over the world and who is to say it isn’t? In one form or the other that is. From one conflict zone to the other. From one state of normalcy to the next. Is it the same for you?

Cry, The Peacock by Anita Desai

Cry, The Peacock by Anita Desai

Title: Cry, The Peacock
Author: Anita Desai
Publisher: Orient Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-8122200850
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 184
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

The beauty of an Anita Desai novel is that it is. It exists. It takes its time to breathe, to soak in, for readers to discover it, and then work its way into their minds and hearts. That is what an Anita Desai novel looks like, feels like, and well, is.

Her books aren’t easy reads. Perhaps nothing happens in them on every page or even every couple of pages, but that’s how it is, and as a reader over the years of reading her again and again, I have learned to admire what I see before me. Yes, I shall sing praises and yes, I shall gush because I don’t see enough people doing that.

Cry, the Peacock is the first novel of hers. Published in 1963, a story of a young woman Maya, who is obsessed by a childhood prophecy of disaster. She lives life on the precipice of it coming true in her head and how it all plays out one Indian Summer with her husband Gautama who is radically different from her.

Anita Desai’s characters have set motives most of the time, and when they don’t is when you’re flummoxed but you’re in for the ride anyway – for the writing that gingerly sneaks up on you and takes you by the horns. The book is full of metaphors and expectations. Expectations that one has from life, and people in it. It is about what you start with and how it all ends (or so it seems at that time).

Cry, the Peacock is a book about so much longing and sensitivity that it is surprising that it doesn’t become sentimental or maudlin at all. Anita Desai’s prose is imaginary, reckless, cautious, and also extremely precise. In less than 200 pages or so she says what she has to, her characters charm and equally annoy you, and her writing mesmerises you. One must read Anita Desai with a lot of time on hand, and when you aren’t rushed to read. Her books demand that time and attention, forever oscillating between hope and hopelessness.

Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder

Dancing at the Pity Party - A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder

Title: Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir
Author: Tyler Feder
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN: 9780525553021
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are so many books written on how to deal with the death of a loved one. So many of them. In different ways, at different places, and each time I read a book on how to deal with the death of a loved one, it just makes it harder, no matter how much time has passed. Do we really get over? Do we really move on?

“Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir” by Tyler Feder is a tribute to her mother, and the full life she led till she lost her mom to cancer. The funny times spent together, the sad ones recalled, and the ones that will be lived without her – all of it makes this book so relatable for anyone who has lost a loved one. I found myself smiling and crying through this graphic memoir. I found myself thinking about my father who died twenty years ago.

Feder speaks of the intimate details – of the times she turned to look for her mother and she wasn’t there. Of how she coped and coped and tried so hard to fit in after her mother’s death, which was even more difficult for an introvert even before. Of how some old traditions need to go and new ones need to take their place. Of how her father and her siblings processed this grief.

“Dancing at the Pity Party” isn’t an easy read, and it being a graphic memoir doesn’t ease the pain either, if you have also lost a loved one. But read you must. It is emotional and funny and answers all questions you might’ve had when it came to how to deal with your grief. It is the kind of books that stay and stick to the heart. A read that helped me cope.

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

 

White Tears:Brown Scars

Title: White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color
Author: Ruby Hamad
Publisher: Catapult
ISBN: 978-1948226745
Genre: Cultural Anthropology, Essays, Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 5/5 

This book is much-needed for the times we live in. Actually for any time – past or present or even the future sadly, given how situations play themselves out over and over again. Situations where white people have set certain standards of humanity and how to live and even love for the rest of the world. Situations where they do not give any agency to people of colour, more so to women of colour, and even if what is perceived as agency isn’t really that. Ruby Hamad’s explosive and very important book “White Tears/Brown Scars” brings to fore and speaks of how white women use their tears to avoid speaking of and mainly confronting their racism.

This book is an off-shoot from Hamad’s article on the same topic that came out in The Guardian in the year 2018, and how that further led to Hamad being contacted by various women of colour with their stories of being betrayed by white women and their tears.

This book is extremely well-researched and an account of the white woman’s role in colonialism, in racism, and in oppressing the people of colour. It doesn’t restrict itself only to the women. It goes beyond that , to men of colour as well. Ruby’s book is global in nature and we all can see how we sometimes behave around white people. We who were once colonised, still carry that burden and remain forever apologetic. This is exactly what happens when a women of colour confronts a white women about her racism – she is apologetic to the white woman, as though it wasn’t her place to call out casual racism.

White Tears/Brown Scars should make people uncomfortable, more so the white people and make them realize what they are doing or have been doing over the years. It is necessarily uncomfortable. Hamad doesn’t write only about the US of A. She ropes in other countries as well – whether it is about the history of Aboriginal women in Australia and how they are treated or the Arab women at large in the world – these are perspectives and stories that must be heard, read, and internalised.

Hamad’s book is a revelation to me (I think it would also be the same for most people). The writing is razor-sharp and she doesn’t hesitate from calling a spade, a spade. It delves into performative victimhood and the truths aren’t palpable. In some cases the book reads like an oral history and maybe that’s what it is – experiences of women of colour with White women’s defensiveness and gas lighting in personal and professional settings.

“White Tears/Brown Scars” is a book that should be required reading for anyone interested in intersectional feminism. It is about the imbalance of power, and how it affects feminism. She takes a view of all of it – history, culture, research, and ultimately the lives of women to make us understand the role of white supremacy in all of it. Please read it.

The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories by Gayatri Gill

The Day Before Today

Title: The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories
Author: Gayatri Gill
Illustrations: Niyati Singh
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books 
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

This had to happen sooner or later. It happened sooner. The Corona virus is still in the air and we have about four to five (maybe more) books already about the virus, stories of people – the privileged and not-so-privileged, stories of lust and liaisons – the list goes on, I think. And in all of this, I bit the bullet and read, “The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories” by Gayatri Gill, illustrated beautifully by Niyati Singh.

“The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories” as the title suggests is a collection of lockdown stories – of people losing their mental faculties, some gaining them, some about the have-nots, and all of them about how our world has changed so drastically, and yet somehow some things still seem the same.

Of children not going to school, of couples bickering and it leading to something more, of mental health issues getting triggered, and taking a life of its own – veering in a direction that could be calamitous – all these stories have the human condition at the heart of them – the condition in times such as these. What happens to people in containment zones, a love story of a ghost, Zoom parties, and in all of this what happens of the essential services workers, Gill lays it all out for the reader in a witty, sharp, and biting manner.

And of course, in such a collection, as you move from story to story it might seem repetitive, but I think even in that, each story emerges as unique and thrilling. Gill’s writing is precise, exercising great brevity, and not using words for the sake of them. Her observations are point-on and make you a part of the story, without realising it. “The Day Before Today: Lockdown Stories” is a melancholic goodbye to the time gone by and what’s to come, whatever it might be. It is about the uncertain future, present, and reminiscing about the past – intermingling all of it in this unique collection of stories.