New Delhi: Ahead of the International Women's Day on March 8, two collections of short stories of flawed, rebellious and most importantly real women, are set to be published by Penguin.
The new titles -- "Women Who Misbehave" and "Impetuous Women" -- are stories of women who step across the Laxman Rekha, who are unapologetic, strong and unconventional but always flawed.
"Women Who Misbehave" is written by Sayantani Dasgupta, an assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and much like the women within its pages, contains multitudes and contradictions. At a party to celebrate her friend's wedding anniversary, a young woman spills a dangerous secret. A group of girls mourns the loss of their strange, mysterious neighbour. A dutiful daughter seeks to impress her father even as she escapes his reach. A wife weighs the odds of staying in her marriage when both her reality and the alternative are equally frightening. An aunt comes to terms with an impulsive mistake committed decades ago.
In this wildly original and hauntingly subversive collection of short stories, Sayantani Dasgupta brings to life unforgettable women and their quest for agency. They are violent and nurturing, sacred and profane. They are friends, lovers, wives, sisters and mothers. Unapologetic and real, they embrace the entire range of the human experience, from the sweetest of loves and sacrifices to the most horrific of crimes.
"Impetuous Women" by Shikhandin (the nom de plume of an Indian writer who writes for adults and children) is about women who step across the Lakshman Rekha, whose transgressions fly in the face of the establishment, the patriarchy, often their own families and loved ones.
From two housewives who play a potentially lethal game of keeping up to an expert baker who serves revenge with chocolate sprinkles on top; from a stern hostel warden who examines her relationship with the teenagers she must surveil to a grouchy widow shuts out the world; From a couple madly in love and desperate for a bit of privacy to a tender bond between a husband and wife, these stories create an unforgettable portrait of modern-day India and the experiential realities of being impetuous, of being women.
This darkly comic, thrillingly tragic collection of stories is sensuous, bittersweet and whimsical by turns, and always wildly, subversively original.