Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Some reviews and interviews of Unbound: 2,000 years of Indian Women's Writing

Here are some reviews of the anthology I have edited: 'Unbound: 2,000 Years of Indian Women's Writing' (Aleph, 2015)

"Zaidi's project is sound without being pretentious, a welcome diving-board for the uninitiated who, hopefully, would want to test the waters further" - From a review in the Hindustan Times

More review links:

A review in Business Standard

A review in The Hindu Businessline

A review in DNA  

A review in The Indian Express

A review in the The Kathmandu Post

Snippets from interviews:

I wanted to keep it wide open, to be as inclusive as possible while also being selective from a literary viewpoint. I was not commissioning fresh work but choosing from what’s already out there. So I had to think not only about which particular writer to represent, but also which poem, what passage from which story should be included. I wanted readers to experience the whole spectrum of literature produced by women writers in India. - An interview with The Hindu

The only sections that can be said to be particularly associated with women are ‘Children’ and ‘Food’. Most of the other themes – spirituality, love, sex, marriage, work, politics, war, death – are as much the stereotypical domain of men and male writers as of women. In fact, some of these themes are often not associated with women at all (in a stereotypical sense)...  I wanted to showcase the complex – the human! – relationships women have to food. It is not just that women purchase or cook food. They help to grow it. They can be seduced through food as much as through flowers and candles. They think about the politics of it, as Nilanjana Roy does in her essay on meat-eating (we’ve included a short extract). One of my favourite extracts is from Nayantara Sahgal’s novel Mistaken Identity, wherein she describes a group of prisoners going on hunger strike. It is one of the most evocative passages I have ever read about food or eating.”
From an interview with Verve

Each book that I've picked extracts from (and many others read for research) taught me something new about a different part of the country, a new culture and the troubles of people (both men and women) at a particular moment in history. It has given me a new lens with which to look at India, especially women's history. It has also taught me the significance of writing not only as self-expression but also as a form of unsilencing, as a tool of engagement with our past and future. Irawati Karve's essays in Yuganta do all of the above. Reading the memoir of the ruler of Bhopal, Sultan Shahjahan Begum and Gulbadan Begum, author of Humayun-nama (not represented in the anthology) taught me how important it is for women to not just do all kinds of work but to be seen to be doing all kinds of work, including power play and governance.
From an interview with Scroll

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