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Women’s Day reads

By The Assam Tribune
Women’s Day reads
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Nayanika Saikia

Here is a list of 10 books that I intend to read/re-read this month. And, with International Women’s Day around the corner, I have ensured that at least one of the two books is by an Indian woman author.

Old Women,

Mahasweta Devi

Old Women is a translated collection of stories whose protagonists are eponymous old women. This, in itself, is a step away from the general order of how protagonists are with regard to their age and gender. The stories also talk about religious superstitions, class/caste clashes as well as address the ‘other’ or the subaltern.

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Her Body and Other Parties,

Carmen Maria Machado

Machado continues to smash the distinct differences between genres just as she did in her fiction and non-fiction bestsellers, Mexican Gothic, and In The Dream House. In Her Body and Other Parties, the author blends psychological realism, science fiction, comedy, horror, fantasy, and fabulism. Original and unique, this collection delves into the realities of women’s lives and the violence that is inflicted on their bodies.

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The Poison of Love,

KR Meera

With beautiful prose that will compel the reader to annotate and highlight every line, The Poison of Love is a stunning work with deep symbolism. It is bound to make you relate, to some degree or the other, with the character who has given her all and lost it all.

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My Dark Vanessa,

Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa is a dark story that features a woman, who in the wake of the #MeToo allegations, realises that what she had been thinking of as the greatest love story of her life, may not entirely be so. It has trigger warnings for gaslighting, trauma, sexual abuse, but it has so many layers to it, that you will be compelled to go back to it.

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Women, Dreaming

Salma

Set around the lives of three generations of women in Muslim households in Tamil Nadu, India, Women, Dreaming by Salma is written in a beautiful prose style, translated from its original Tamil. Revolving around women – widows, unmarried women, daughters, and in-laws – the book delves into themes of patriarchal oppression, ambition, desire, and societal diktats.

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The Housekeeper and the Professor,

Yoko Ogawa

A beautiful story of love found in unexpected places, The Housekeeper and the Professor has been translated from its original Japanese. We follow the lives of a brilliant mathematician stuck in the past and the housekeeper (and her son) tasked with taking care of him. Through unexpected ways, the woman and her son get to experience fatherly love, of which they had been deprived and the man gets another chance at a family.

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Azadi,

Arundhati Roy

Here, Roy talks about the power of language, the public versus the private, the meaning of freedom in a world of “growing authoritarianism”, and on the role of fiction in these tumultuous times. Viewing the pandemic as a doorway that lets us leave behind the destruction, and, instead, hope for a better tomorrow, Azadi is a call for freedom and a hopeful future.

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Know My Name,

Chanel Miller

This is a story of reclamation and owning what happened to Miller in the infamous Brock Turner Stanford rape case. It has trigger warnings of trauma, sexual assault, and victim silencing/blaming. With the content, intertwined with the excellent articulation, Miller delivers a punch to the guy, forever changing the ways in which we think of sexual assault.

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The Forest of Enchantments,

Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee

Divakaruni’s novel is a beautiful and often heartrending portrayal of Sita’s story, where we get to know her side of the story – Sita reclaims her identity, from her miraculous birth to what we know of as the end of her story. She owns it all – every step of the way.

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Women and Other Monsters,

Jess Zimmerman

A fresh take on the stories of what are considered female monsters from Greek mythology, Women and Other Monsters is a rewriting of all their stories. Here, we read the stories as voiced by their owners of these stories – women with all their desires, ambitions, sexualities, and most importantly, agency.

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