For a long time, literature was a man’s arena. 17th and 18th-century women joined the field with great classics like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. However, even in the twenty-first century, our institutes and media houses do not let us forget that books were a man’s invention. With a focus on authors such as Chaucer and William Shakespeare in the university curriculum, we reinforce the male supremacy in this field.
A recent article in Hindustan Times serves as an example of the above point. In a list of 10 anticipated books for 2018, the author of the article only managed to mention one woman author. In an effort to fill the gap presented in the article and social conscience at large, here is a list of 9 Indian women authors you should look out for:
1. Mridula Behari
Mridula Behari is an award-winning author, playwright and activist. She has primarily written in Hindi and regional languages. However, recently Penguin Random House published her first English novel, Padmini. Her works are mostly women-centric with strong female protagonists at the helm of the story.
She has been published in several national and regional newspapers including Dharmyug, Saptahik Hindustan, Saarika and Dainik Bhaskar. Her works have appeared on Doordarshan and All India Radio. She was recently awarded the Meera Samman from the Rajasthan Sahitya Akademi and the Radhakrishana Samman.
2. Harnidh Kaur
Harnidh Kaur is one of the brightest young poets of today’s age. She mixes social and political commentary with a tinge of her personal experiences. She has published two collections of her poetry, The Inability of Words and The Ease of Forgetting.
The Inability of Words emerged as the Amazon Poetry Bestseller on the very first day of its launch. Her second book The Ease of Forgetting came out last year and was received with a great amount of appreciation. Her Twitter handle PedestrianPoet has become a voice of the millennials in the recent past.
3. Sujata Massey
Sujata Massey is a critically acclaimed Indo-American author. She has published thirteen novels, two novellas and numerous short stories. On January 9, 2018, she is releasing another novel The Widows of Malabar Hill. The novel is set in 1920s Bombay and is partly inspired by the woman who made history as India’s first female attorney.
The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story and introduces a sharp and promising new sleuth. Her novels have won the Agatha and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark prizes.
4. Devapriya Roy
Devapriya Roy is a Delhi based author. She is the author of two popular novels – The Vague Woman’s Handbook (2011) and The Weight Loss Club (2013). She has also written a quirky travelogue, The Heat and Dust Project (along with husband Saurav Jha) that chronicles the story of travelling through India on local buses.
5. Temsula Ao
Temsula Ao is an Indian English poet, scholar, and novelist. She is widely recognized as one of the major literary figures to emerge from North East India. She has five books of poetry to her credit and her works represent the agonies and aspirations of her community, the Nagas.
Recently, she published a new novel, Aosenla’s Story which is set in Nagaland and follows the life of Aosenla, a woman who is coming to terms with herself. Her collection of short stories Laburnum for My Head has earned her Sahitya Akademi Award in 2013. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri.
6. Anuja Chauhan
Anuja Chauhan is a renowned Indian author and advertiser. She has worked in advertising for over seventeen years and is credited with many popular campaigns including PepsiCo’s Yeh Dil Maange More, Mera Number Kab Aayega, Oye Bubbly and Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai.
She is the author of four bestselling novels (The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, The House That BJ Built). Her romantic novels present characters that are extremely witty and recognizable. Her use of Hinglish and Indian setting gives a sense of relatability to Indian urbane readers and have received a great amount of popularity.
7. Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt is a renowned Indian television journalist and political writer. She was part of NDTV’s team for 21 years. In 2015, she published This Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s Fault Lines. Based on the author’s real-life experiences, from a time when she was a reporter on the field, to behind the scene deals in the highest power circle, the book delves deeper into the complexities of the Indian State.
She has signed a book deal with Juggernaut and plans to publish a book about Indian politics in the past two decades titled Power. She has won many national and international awards, including the Padma Shri.
8. Sujatha Gidla
Sujatha Gidla is an Andhra-based Physics graduate works as a subway conductor in New York. Her book Ants Among the Elephants is the story of her experience as a non-dominant caste person in Andhra Pradesh and her journey to becoming a subway conductor in New York.
Her writing has been covered by International media giants like BBC and New York Times. The memoir has been added to The Oxford India Anthology of Telugu Dalit Writing.
9. Meena Kandasamy
Meena Kandasamy is an Indian poet, fiction writer, translator and activist who is based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her works majorly focus on feminism and caste. She has published two anthologies of poems, Touch and Ms Militancy and two novels.
Her novel The Gypsy Goddess deals with the 1968 Kilvenmani massacre of Dalit farm labourers in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu and has been longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. The book was critically acclaimed and praised by respected publications like Livemint and The Hindu.
This list is by no means comprehensive. If you think we left out an important Indian woman author, please let us know in the comments section below.