History of Women Writers in Indian English Literature
In the past, the work by the Indian women authors has always been undervalued because of some patriarchal assumptions. Indian societies gave priorities to the worth of male experiences. In those days, women used to write about a woman's perception and experiences within the enclosed domestic arena. In the 19th century, more and more women actively participated in India's reformist movement against the British rule. In the 20th century, women's writing was considered as a powerful medium of modernism and feminist statements. The last two decades have witnessed phenomenal success in feminist writings of Indian English literature.
Famous Women Writers in Indian English Literature
Majority of the Indian readers comprising both male and female read the novels of the Indian women authors with certain expectations. Only the women novelists of India are capable of conveying the messages of feminism in an Indian way. Following are the famous Women Writers in Indian English Literature:
Sarojini Naidu: She was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India. Her collection of poetry was published in 1905 under the title "Golden Threshold". She published two other collections also "The Bird of Time", and "The Broken Wings". Afterwards, "The Magic Tree", "The Wizard Mask", and "A Treasury of Poems" were published. In most of her poems she induces the spirit of nationalism.
Arundhati Roy: Arundhati Roy is one of the most celebrated authors of India, best known for her novel 'The God of Small Things'. The novel won the 1997 Booker Prize for fiction and it was one of the bestselling books at that time. She was awarded with the ‘Sahitya Academy Award’ in 2006, for her collection of essays, 'The Algebra of Infinite Justice' but she refused to accept it.
Jhumpa Lahiri: She has achieved international applause for her writing which mainly deals with Non-resident Indian characters, refugee issues and problems people face in overseas lands. Mira Nair directed a film based on her first novel 'The Namesake' in 2006. Her book 'The Lowland' was a nominee for the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction.
Kamala Das: She is considered as the mother of contemporary Indian English Poetry. She was the first Indian woman writing in English language, who talks about the sexual incidents of Indian women. Her first book of poetry, ‘Summer in Calcutta’ was famous in Indian English poetry. She wrote primarily of love, its faithlessness, and the resulting distress. Her second book of poetry, ‘The Descendants’ was even more open. She was nominated and shortlisted for Nobel Prize in 1984. She was awarded with the ‘Sahitya Academy Award’, ‘Kerala Sahitya Academy Award’, ‘Kent Award for English Writing from Asian Countries’ and many more.
Anita Desai: She is one of the most reputed writers of India and was nominated for the Booker Prize at least three times. She was awarded with the esteemed Sahitya Academy Award in 1978 for her novel 'Fire on the Mountain' and the Padma Bhushan in 2014 for her contribution to Indian Literature.
Shobha Rajadhyaksha: Also known as Shobhaa De, she is an Indian columnist and novelist. She has come to be celebrated as the "Jackie Collins of India". She mostly deals with the issues concerning the contemporary society. She also focuses on the different faces of the metropolitan Indian society. She tries to project the large society as a whole throughout her characters.
Indira Goswami: She was honoured with the ‘Jnanapith Award’, which is the highest literary honour. Her work focuses on women and different aspects of Assamese society. Her most famous works are ‘Pages Stained with Blood’ and ‘The Moth Eaten Howdah of Tusker’.
Kiran Desai: The second Indian to win a Booker Prize in 2006, for her book "The Inheritance of Loss", Kiran Desai also won enthusiastic reviews for her debut novel, "Hullabaloo in the Guava Richard." She is the daughter of Anita Desai and her work is motivated by globalization, and the consequence of the country’s development on all social classes.
Shashi Deshpande: She is an award winning Indian novelist best known for her book 'That Long Silence'. She won the ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ for the novel 'That Long Silence' in 1990 and the Padma Shri award in 2009.
Anita Nair: She is an Indian-English writer whose novels are keenly woven on the thread of human nature and values; with a female oriented element. Her 'Mistress' was included in the list for the ‘Orange Broadband Prize’ for Fiction.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: She is an award-winning author and poet and her work has been published in more than 50 magazines, including the ‘Atlantic Monthly’ and ‘The New Yorker’. Her important works include ‘Palace of Illusion’, and ‘Mistress of Spice’. She was awarded the American Book Award for 'Arranged Marriage'.
Bharati Mukherjee: She is the author of seven novels and two short story collections, and co-author of two books of non-fiction. She is also the winner of a National Book Critic Circles Award.
Toru Dutt: She was an Indian poet who wrote in English and French. Her famous works are ‘Le Journal de Mademoiselle d’Arvers’, ‘Bianca’, ‘the Young Spanish Maiden’, ‘Ancient Ballads’ and ‘Legends of Hindustan’.
Meena Alexander: She is an internationally acclaimed poet, scholar, and writer. She is Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and at the CUNY Graduate Centre in the PhD program in English at New York City. Her famous works are ‘House of a Thousand Doors’, ‘River and Bridge’, ‘Quickly Changing River’, ‘The Shock of Arrival: Reflection on Postcolonial Experience’, ‘Nampally Road’, ‘Manhattan Music’ etc.
Reetika Vazirani: She was an Indian/American refugee poet and educator. She was the author of two poetry collections, ‘White Elephants’, winner of the 1995 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, and ‘World Hotel’, winner of the 2003 ‘Anisfield-Wolf book award’. She was a contributing and advisory editor for ‘Shenandoah’, a book review editor for ‘Callaloo’, and a senior poetry editor for ‘Catamaran’, a journal of South Asian literature.
Rukmini Bhaya Nair: She is a well-known linguist, award winning poet, writer and critic of India. She won the First Prize for her poem ‘Kali’ in the "All India Poetry Competition" in 1990 organised by The Poetry Society (India) in partnership with British Council. Her famous works are ‘Mad Girl's Love Song’, ‘Yellow Hibiscus’, ‘The Ayodhya Cantos’, ‘The Hyoid Bone’ etc.
Temsula Ao: She is a poet, short story writer and ethnographer. She received the ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ for her short story collection, ‘Laburnum for My Head’, given by the Sahitya Akademi. She also received the Padma Shri and Governor's Gold Medal awards.
Anju Makhija: She is a poet, playwright, translator and columnist. She has won several awards including ‘The All India Poetry Competition’, ‘the BBC World Regional Poetry Prize’, ‘the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Prize’. She is also the receiver of the ‘Charles Wallace Trust Award’.
Other famous Women Writers in Indian English Literature are Nayantara Sahgal, Rama Mehta, Susan Viswanathan, Kamala Mrkandaya, Suniti Namjoshi, Anuradha Marwah Roy, Nergis Dalal, Krishna Sobti, Dina Mehta, Malati Chendur, Gauri Deshpande, Namita Gokhale, Ruth Jhabvala and so on.
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Women Writers in Indian English Literature