The imprint of gender on literature is subtle. When you read what women write, you come back enriched in a hundred different ways. Be it rare sensibility, unforgettable characters and unmatched narrative richness, women writers enrich novels greatly. Here’s our pick of this year’s best Indian women writers in English.
Rohini Mohan made waves this year with her first book The Seasons of Trouble. A non-fiction account of three people caught up in the aftermath of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, the book won the prestigious Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2015. Mohan writes brilliantly on politics, environment and human rights in South Asia.
Nilanjana Sengupta’s book The Female Voice of Myanmar: Khin Myo Chit to Aung San Suu Kyi presents Burma through the literary works of four women — Khin Myo Chit, Ludu Daw Amar, Ma Thida and Aung San Suu Kyi. Adding to the book’s literary luster is that Sengupta has studied both the English works of these four authors and their writings in Burmese.
Loved as much as she is admired for her feisty writings, Jhumpa Lahiri is a household name, from India to the United States. In her latest work, Hell-Heaven (from the collection Unaccustomed Earth) Lahiri explores the secrets that lie at the heart of every family. Closely examining and laying bare the hearts and minds of sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, this book is as exquisite as The Namesake and The Lowland.
Blazing new trails with her mythological-feminist novels, Kavita Kane is a senior journalist based in Pune. Her latest novel Menaka’s Choice tells the untold story of the most beautiful apsara and the most powerful ascetic Vishwamitra and how their love can change the course of the world. Kane’s earlier novels, Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen and Sita’s Sister, were bestselling works of elegant storytelling.
There is crime fiction, and there is historical crime fiction, and then, there is historical crime fiction set in Mughal India. Madhulika Liddle’s latest novel Crimson City features Muzaffar Jung, the detective she created and made popular in her previous books. Edge-of-the-seat action and a historical setting to die for, Liddle’s Crimson City pips the best detective novels to the post and emerges as the clear winner.