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This Femme Friday I have something special for you guys. A wonderful list of books new/upcoming from Zubaan books, an independent feminist publishing house in Delhi that specialises in fiction, non fiction and books that will probably change the world. Or atleast India.

9789384757762The Mothers of Manipur: Twelve Women Who Made History by Teresa Rehman (NF)

On July 15, 2004, twelve women, all in their sixties and seventies, positioned themselves in front of the gates of the Kangla Fort in Manipur, India—the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, a unit of the Indian army. One by one, the women stripped themselves naked, holding banners aloft that read, “Indian Army Rape Us” and “Take Our Flesh.” The mothers of Manipur did this to protest the custodial rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama, a 32-year-old woman, who was alleged by the army to be a militant. The soldiers were not the only ones who watched on, aghast—this iconic image was seen by hundreds of thousands of Indians across the country. The prevailing sentiment was, “Could a naked protest by Indian mothers really be happening?”

The Mothers of Manipur is the story of these twelve courageous imas of Manipur, who are known to be strong and self-sufficient and to run the economy of the state. The women had witnessed several decades of low-intensity war—sanctioned by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958—and for them, the death of Manorama was the trigger for the ultimate act of protest. Journalist Teresa Rehman tells the story of these women—how they made their decision, how they carried it out, and how their lives changed in the aftermath. The Mothers of Manipur turns the trope of Indian women as merely the victims of violence on its head and reflects the larger history of a conflict-torn region, while detailing the courageous resistance of a people who faced overwhelming odds.

Zubaan Series on Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia. The Sexual Violence and Impunity (SVI) project is an attempt by Zubaan, supported by IDRC, to study both the history and current prevalence of mass sexual violence in South Asia. The research and findings under this project are now being made available to the public through the publication of several volumes of essays, grouped broadly into the countries they address: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

The first to be published of this series are the volumes on India and Bangladesh: Breaching the Citadel: The India Papers and Of the Nation Born: The Bangladesh Papers

No Outlaws In The Gender Galaxy (Non Fiction)

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The constructed “naturalness” of a world made up of two sexes, two genders, and heterosexual desire as the only legitimate desire has been continuously questioned and challenged by those marginalised by these norms. This forces us to ask some important questions: How is gender really understood and constructed in the world that we inhabit? How does it operate through the various socio-political-cultural structures around us? And, most crucially, how is it lived?

No Outlaws in the Gender Galaxy answers these questions with a research study that attempts to understand gender through the lives of queer persons assigned gender female at birth. The lived realities of the respondents, echoing in the book through their voices, help to interrogate gender as well as provide clues to how it can be envisioned or revisioned to be egalitarian. I am really interested in this book in particular. It sounds like something most of us should read.

Last but not the least, the book that caught my eye immediately and not just because of the awesome cover.

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Andal : The Autobiography Of A Goddess

Priya Sarukkai Chabria and Ravi Shankar’s elegant new translations of eighth-century Tamil poet and founding saint Andal, cements her status as the South Indian corollary to Mirabai.

In this one volume is her entire corpus, composed before she apocryphally merged with the idol of her chosen god as a young teenager, leaving behind the still popular song of congregational worship, the Thiruppavai, a collection of thirty pasuram (stanzas) sung for Lord Tirumal (Vishnu) and the much less frequently translated and rapturously erotic Nacchiyar Thirumoli.

Chabria and Shankar employ a radical new method of revitalizing classical verse by shifting it into a contemporary poetic idiom in another language. Some of the hymns are translated collaboratively, others by one or another of the translators, and others separately by each. This kaleidoscopic approach allows the reader multiple perspectives on the rich sonic and philosophical complexity of Andal’s classical Tamil.

If fiction is more your thing then check out these two:

The Power To Forgive and other stories by Avinou Kire which is a collection of stories (obviously) based around Nagaland culture. It sounds like something pretty great and I’ve got to get my hands on it ASAP.

A Ragdoll After My Heart by Anuradha Vaidhya. A rather unique book (a novella written in freeverse) originally written in Marathi and translated into english. this is a story about a woman’s desire to be a mother. Now freeverse is really not my thing but if you enjoy it, go grab this book. (Can I also mention just how utterly gorgeous all of Zubaan’s covers are!)

Zubaan provide international shipping and if you are shopping from the US you can check them out here too.

Are you eyeing anything from this list?

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