Weekly news

Events:

Gangtok, Sikkim Winter Carnival, 14th-19th December. Various cultural and other events around the town.

Delhi, Friday December 12th, 6.30pm, at the India International Centre. Radhaben Garwa, author of Picture This!: Painting the Women’s Movement, a visual history of the rural women’s movement in Kutch, will be present with her sakhis from the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, speaking with Anjolie Ela Menon, Vimala Ramanchandran and Farah Naqvi. There will also be an exhibition of Radhaben’s pictures.

New York, Wednesday December 10th, 6pm. ‘Around the Globe: International Diversity in YA Writing’. At the New York Public Library, main branch. Featuring Indian author Padma Venkatraman, among others. RSVP here.

Dubai, 3-7 March 2015, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Attendees announced, including Mohsin Hamid.

Announcements:

Bilal Tanweer’s The Scatter Here is Too Great wins the Shakti First Book Prize.

DSC Prize for South Asian literature short-list announced. Read about it on The Guardian. (Honestly, if Kamila Shamsie wins, I will stop taking that prize seriously!)

The New York Times’ List of 100 Notable Books of 2014 is out, and features a handful of South Asian or South-Asian related authors: Ramachandra Guha, Vikram Chandra, Anand Gopal, Anand Ghiridharadas, Akhil Sharma.

What I’ve been reading:

‘On fact-free truths about golden ages’, by Akshai Jain, in Fountain Ink.

‘Kitaab interview with Shashi Deshpande’, by Zafar Anjum, on Kitaab.

‘Arvind Krishna Mehrotra: Allahabad’s Prodigal Poet’ by Mayank Austen Soofi, on Live Mint.

‘A very queer Ramadan’, by Lamya H, in Tanqeed.

New stories:

‘Rasha’, by Bangladeshi writer Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, in Words Without Borders.

Positions advertised:

Words Without Borders is looking for an experienced NYC-based editor.

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Weekly news

Recently published: 

Meena Kandasamy’s book of poetry Ms. Militancy has been published in German, as Fraulein Militanz.

New issue:

Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal’s Fall 2014 issue is out now.

Speeches:

Manil Suri’s two keynote addresses at the Kriti Festival of South Asian Literature (held in Chicago at the end of September, and at which I was present) are available to watch on YouTube, here and here. Manil was a great speaker, and a superb writer. Recommended watching.

Events:

Singapore, 13th-14th November: Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, 9th International Conference on the States of South Asia. More info available here. Wish I could be at this one!

Kathmandu, 13th November, 4.30pm: Talk: Where Art Meets Science: New ways to explore change in the Himalayas, with climber, photographer and filmmaker David Breashears. At QFX Kumari cinema, hall 1. Free entry. Hosted by Photo Circle.

Delhi, 15th Novemeber 11am: Launch of Zubaan book ‘Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean’, sci-fi and fantasy short stories for young adults, from Indian and Australian authors. Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place. Info on Zubaan’s website.

What I’m reading:

‘What Books are People Buying in India? Ten Things That Will Astonish You’ by Arunava Sinha on Scroll.In.

‘The Book of Gold Leaves Review- Mirza Waheed Speaks Up For Kashmir’ by Chitra Ramaswamy in The Guardian.

‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ by Rahul Singh, in IQ: The Indian Quarterly. On Khushwant Singh, by his son.

‘Why Post-Colonial Lords Have a Colonial Hangover’, in Tehelka, by Rakesh Krishnan Simha. Simha writes very provocatively about William Dalrymple. I’m not an apologist for Dalrymple (who I think is a great travel writer and a good historian, but a rather crowd-pleasing po-co lord, as in the article’s title) but Simha stoops very low: “The likes of Dalrymple should, therefore, go back and reform their own country. They have no business being in India”. Nope, I’m not buying that. Tehelka is going in a very funny direction by publishing this kind of writing.

‘Feminism is not Short-Hand for Male Bashing’, interview with Meena Kandasamy in the Hindustan Times. I don’t think the interviewer does a great job here (in fact, most of her questions would suggest she knows little about her subject) but Meena Kandasamy is a fascinating author.

‘Kiss of Love: Public Kissing Western? Public Pissing Indian?’ by one of my favourites, Urvashi Butalia, on the DailyO. Flippant, but fun.

Extract:

‘Winged Horses’ by Janice Pariat, extract from her forthcoming novel Seahorses in IQ: Indian Quarterly.

‘The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer’ by Laxmi Hariharan. Excerpt on Kitaab.

Call for submissions:

Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal is calling for submissions.

 

My new article in Intersections

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I’ve just had an article published in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, an open-access academic journal. It’s called ‘Reconciling Feminist and Anti-Caste Analyses in Studies of Indian Dalit-Bahujan Women’, and looks at the work of three publications by Indian feminist presses. It’s a modified and shortened version of one of the chapters of my PhD thesis.

This article is a good example of why I chose to leave academia (nothing to do with the article itself! But the publication process.) I first submitted this two years ago. I had to have my final changes made at the end of 2012. My final proofs were done in mid-2013. Yet it is only now being published. I’m not blaming anyone involved, but the whole academic publishing process means that studies are not reaching their target audience in a timely manner, even when there aren’t the physical logistics of printing and distribution involved–Intersections is an online journal. The system really needs an overhaul, but is unlikely to get it anytime soon. For example, I wrote this long before the author of one of the books discussed, Sharmila Rege, died last year. I wouldn’t necessarily have changed what the article contains after the news of her death reached me, but I may have wanted to add some kind of footnote in recognition of it.

But, all is well that ends well. Here is an extract from the article, and the rest of the article can be read by everyone (I love open-access academic journals, especially now that I’m no longer based at a university!) here.

“In the west the catchphrase ‘all the women are white, all the blacks are men’ came to capture black women’s feelings that they were alienated from both the feminist movement and the black civil rights movement. In India, there has been a ‘masculinization of dalithood and a savarnisation [upper-casteing] of womanhood. This paper examines three book-length studies of women’s involvement in anti-caste struggles that go some way in reconciling feminist and anti-caste positions concerning dalit-bahujan women: We Also Made History: Women in the Ambedkarite Movement, by Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon (Zubaan, 2008), Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Reading Dalit Women’s Testimonios by Sharmila Rege (Zubaan, 2006), and The Other Half of the Coconut: Women Write Self-Respect History, edited by K. Srilata (Kali for Women, 2003). All three books were published by leading Indian feminist presses. This paratextual fact is central to a key argument of mine—that recent, feminist-inspired histories of dalit-bahujan women are trying to reconcile the fissures between feminist and anti-caste analyses, but are not always entirely successful because one of the two modes of analysis remains dominant over the other. Feminist and anti-caste modes of analysis have not always complemented each other in activism or scholarly discourse, with ‘mainstream’ feminists often believing that their movement is caste-neutral, and lower-caste women believing that the feminist movement does not provide a space for their particular grievances, heavily marked by caste. I argue that these feminist studies attempt to reconcile a feminist analysis with an anti-caste one—that is, the authors and views expounded in the texts are informed by feminist and anti-caste positions. But, it is still evident that the two modes of analysis have an ambivalent relationship with each other. ‘Feminist’ often remains synonymous with ‘upper-caste.'”

Zubaan books now available in e-book formats

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Delhi-based feminist press, Zubaan, has just announced that its books are now available in Kindle, Kobo and i-pad formats. This is very exciting news for me, being in Nepal and unable to get many of the books I want in physical copy, and only being able to electronically get what Amazon Australia deigns to share for Kindle.

My PhD on contemporary Indian feminist publishing featured Zubaan a great deal, so this development would’ve been even more exciting for me several years ago, but hey, late is better than never.

Take a look at the Zubaan website here.

Here are some more of my Zubaan-related posts:

Year of Reading Women

Review of Of Mothers and Others

Gender Anxiety and Contemporary Indian Popular Fiction

Empowering Women? Feminist Responses to Hindutva

Review of Birthright by Vaasanthi

Review of Prisoner No. 100

Indian Feminist Publishing and Political Creative Writing

Zubaan Cultures of Peace Festival 2011