The Liberation of Sita | Volga
Valmiki’s Ramayana is the story of Rama’s exile and return to Ayodhya, a triumphant king who will always do right by his subjects. In Volga’s retelling, it is Sita who, after being abandoned by Purushottam Rama, embarks on an arduous journey to self-realization. Along the way, she meets extraordinary women who have broken free from all that held them back: husbands, sons, and their notions of desire, beauty and chastity. The minor women characters of the epic as we know it – Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila and Ahalya – steer Sita towards an unexpected resolution. Meanwhile, Rama too must reconsider and weigh out his roles as the king of Ayodhya and as a man deeply in love with his wife. A powerful subversion of India’s most popular tale of morality, choice and sacrifice, The Liberation of Sita opens up new spaces within the old discourse, enabling women to review their lives and experiences afresh. This is Volga at her feminist best.
Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2npyD3D
Own It: Leadership Lessons from Women Who Do | Aparna Jain
#NotAllMen are the problem. #NotAllWomen are victims. But there’s enough of both to warrant this book.
Most women today are opting for careers over jobs, even if it requires them to play multiple roles with superhuman abilities. Meanwhile, men, at home and at work, struggle to come to terms with their changing priorities. And therein lies the chasm between male expectations and female ambition. As Dame Julia Walsh says in the television miniseries The Honourable Woman, ‘In a room full of pussies, I’m the only one with a vagina.’ Own It tells women’s stories: the ugly, the happy, the rarely discussed, the unacknowledged, the whispered, the denied. Close to two hundred Indian women leaders across industries discuss the challenges they face in the Indian workplace and at home. Heads of companies, human resource directors and senior managers talk about issues like pay parity, harassment, promotion and maternity policies. Why is the workplace agenda skewed against women and what are their own demons that keep them from breaking the glass ceiling? Thought-provoking and controversial, Own It takes the challenges that confront women in the workplace head-on – without discounting the complexities of being a woman in an Indian home.
Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2otbZql
The Lesson | Sowmya Rajendran
The adjustment bureau is snowed under with work, the moral police force is on the prowl. The country, but most of all the capital, must live by the Conduct Book. But it isn’t easy. Despite all the efforts of these organizations to maintain peace and social order, people, especially women, continue to flout the law – they ask for divorces, dress provocatively, drink with men and attempt to avoid marriage and childbearing. But there’s a one-man army, more effective than the entire moral police force put together, who will bring law to the land. A vigilante who has his own methods. No matter how many wanton, difficult women there are, he will persevere for the greater good. He will shame them like they have never been shamed before. And when one particular woman’s rebellion threatens to spiral out of control, he’s called upon to remedy the situation … and teach her a lesson. The Lesson is a dystopian satire about the violence that women live with, structural, systemic and even just the everyday sort. It is a book that will remind you that, after all these years, Big Brother is still watching you.
Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2nGWNJp
Walking Towards Ourselves | Catriona Mitchell
Walking Towards Ourselves is an anthology of autobiographical narratives based on the real, lived experiences of Indian women writers. The pieces explore what it means to be an Indian woman. Contributors write on issues such as love, sexuality, taboos, marriage, motherhood, literacy, career choices, dating and definitions of success for women. Walking Towards Ourselves represents multiple perspectives and a range of voices, giving readers insight into the richness and complexities of contemporary Indian women’s lives.
Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2ncPRAh
The High Priestess Never Marries | Sharanya Manivannan
A Sri Lankan mermaid laments the Arthurian Fisher King; a woman treks to a cliff in the Nilgiris with honey gatherers of the Irula tribe; a painter fears she will lose her sanity if she leaves her marriage, and lose her art if she stays faithful within it; one woman marries her goddess; another, sitting in a bar, says to herself, ‘I like my fights dirty, my vodka neat and my romance anachronistic.’ The women in this collection are choice makers, consequence facers, solitude seekers. They are lovers, vixens, wives to themselves. And their stories are just how that woman in the bar likes it – dirty, neat and sexy as smoke.
Buy it here: http://amzn.to/2nGRWYC
Mister God, This is Anna | Fynn
Anna was four years old when Fynn, then only 16 himself, found her wandering round London’s Docklands one foggy night in the 1930s. Badly neglected and abandoned by her parents, he took her home to be cared for by his own family.
The impact of this extraordinary child on Fynn, his friends and the people in their neighbourhood was to be immense. Nobody who met Anna could remain the same: this intelligent, lively, precocious chatterbox had an outlook on life which completely undercut adult pretensions and illusions.
Anna’s influence continues today. Anyone dipping into her thought-processes falls under the spell of her luminous innocence, wisdom and intimate relationship with ‘Mister God’.
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2nVI9hO
Purple Hibiscus | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes by a talented young Nigerian writer.
The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her repressive and fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, and more prayer.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart during a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to live with their aunt. In this house, full of energy and laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.
Centring on the promise of freedom and the pain and exhilaration of adolescence, Purple Hibiscus is the extraordinary debut of a remarkable new talent.
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2o7y3Yh
The Girl with Seven Names | Hyeonseo Lee
Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told ‘the best on the planet’? Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.
Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable. This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life, first in China, then in South Korea.
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2o7Ejzi
Here’s Hyeonseo Lee’s Ted talk:
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo | Amy Schumer
From award-winning comedian, writer, producer and actress Amy Schumer comes The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, a thoughtful, honest and hysterical collection of (very) personal essays.
Never one to shy away from the uproarious, challenging and remarkable moments that make up life, this exceptionally candid book will have readers wincing with recognition, nodding their head in solidarity and laughing out loud. Written with Amy’s signature candour, she reflects on her often raucous childhood antics, her hard won and incomparable rise to comedic stardom and the courage it takes to approach the world with astounding honesty every single day. Surely the most anticipated collection of the year, Amy shines bright as a friend, daughter, sister, unforgettable comedian and most notably, a masterful (and always entertaining) storyteller.
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2nlYnhD
Here’s a clip about the book, courtesy Good Morning America:
We Should All Be Feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What does ‘feminism’ mean today?
In this personal, eloquently argued essay – adapted from her much-admired TedX talk of the same name – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now – an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2nlTODS
Watch the TedX talk here: