Indian literary landscape has been a male dominated game, however in the post independence era India has seen a progressive rise of women taking up the mantle of literary awakening. Many female authors have gone ahead and broken the norm and created some ground-breaking literature across genres. Whether story-writing, poetry, fiction or academia women writers have portrayed the motivations, desires, and earlier unexplored journey of women in the Indian society. In this blog, we are highlighting 10 path-breaking books by some of the most celebrated female authors.
According to author Mrinal Pandey, empowered women are manifestations of goddesses. She believes that these women are strong-willed warriors and passionate about defying a patriarchal society. This book basically chronicles a catalog of female voices that refuse to conform to rules dictated by a male-dominated society. In this thrillingly impressive book, she talks about her mother, a prolific Hindi writer, her intellectual aunt, and a number of activists women.
Krishna Sobti was one of the leading lights of Hindi literature. Her work includes eight novels, two novellas, a collection of short stories, and three volumes of profiles of other writers. Mitro is an embodiment of Krishna Sobti's unfettered representation of female sexuality, and the book's sexually explicit language aroused outrage when it was first published in 1967. Its presentation of provocative and sensitive issues forces society and the reader out of their comfort zones.
Usha Priyamvada is considered as one of the foremost novelist and short story writer in Hindi. Her stories revolve around the complexities of women’s lives, especially those from the traditional backgrounds. Pachpan Khambe Laal Deewaren is an account of a real-life Indian woman's troubles, her suppressed feelings, the agony of separation, and the endurance of pain. This book remains relevant even after five decades of its publication in 1972.
Qurratulain Hyder is widely regarded as one of the most distinguished literary figures in the Urdu language. It was Hyder's distinctive stream of consciousness style and the pulsation of India's composite culture in her writing that distinguished her works. Her novel Kaar-e-Jahan Daraz Hai is a one-of-a-kind work that is both a novel and a saga about her family and forefathers. These four volumes are the best examples of a unique blend of fact and fiction, weaved by Hyder’s witty and grasping prose.
When compared to their male counterparts, women have always been considered less free and liberated in Indian society. This book is centered on the question of freedom, and it is beautifully interlaced through a love story. In this one-of-a-kind work, Mridula Garg explores the relationship between love and freedom and asks if love is unhealthy if it hinders freedom and development.
While Ahilya resents the arrangement, her father insists that she marry an egotistic and chauvinistic government officer he selects for her. Ahilya does not want to suffer the same fate as her mother, so she fights her father tooth and nail for the right to choose her own husband. Chaudah Phere by Shivani is one of the perfect depictions as well as critique of man’s claim of the right to behave as he pleases with a woman and make decisions on her behalf.
Ishrat Afreen stands as one of the most influential voices of the feminist milieu in Urdu poetry. Her experiences as a poet and a woman intensely aware of female predicament contribute to her poetic sensibilities. To explore the theme of womanhood in her work, we need to look closely at her collection of poems. In her collection Ek Diya Ek Phool, Afreen makes apparent her stance regarding feminist politics – their nuances in the current scenario and the future of women.
Known as the most prominent voice for the women in Punjabi literature, Amrita Pritam was a leading 20th century poet. Over the course of her six-decade career, she published over 100 volumes, including poetry, novels, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk melodies, and an autobiography, which were translated into various Indian and other languages. This choicest collection is the best compilation of her exquisite poems.
Parveen Shakir managed to establish herself in Urdu literature like almost no other female ghazal poet. The classicism in her ghazals is a luminous display of her excellent craftsmanship, the thunderous quietude in her nazms is the roar of her identity as a woman. “Partinidhi Kavitayen: Parveen Shakir” is the choicest collection of her Nazms and Ghazals.
Famously known as the ‘Great Dame’ of Urdu literature, Ismat Chughtai wrote extensively, exploring the themes of female sexuality and femininity, and became one of the grandest names in Urdu prose. Many of her works including “Lihaaf” were banned in South Asia due to resistance by conservatives. “Pratindhi Kahaniyan: Ismat Chughtai” is the choicest collection of her representative stories.