Top Feminist Writers of India: Shaping the Women’s Movements

Here are the Top Feminist Writers of India who rebelled against patriarchy and shaped the Women's Movements

Indian Feminists have fought to secure the rights and freedoms of women for decades. They have used different forms of art as resistance. Feminist Writers used writing as a tool to resist patriarchal oppression. They rebelled against the shackles of patriarchy by voicing their opinions. This empowered women and united them. Here is a list of those inspiring and fierce Top Feminist Writers of India who made history and changed the way women lived their lives:

Speaker | Personality Details

Mahasweta Devi (1926- 2016): Writer and Social Worker. Devi’s stories showcase her feminist visions. We can see the early beginnings of feminism in her work. She wrote many stories including Padmini, Bayern, and Jashobanti. These were all centred around the lives of women. In her works such as Draupadi and Hajar Churashir Maa, we can see a fierce feminist writer exposing the cruel patriarchal world. Mahasweta Devi depicts the violence against tribal peoples and the untouchables by, authoritarian upper-caste landlords and despotic government officials.

Speaker | Personality Details
Author and Poet

Kamala Das ( 1934–2009) Writer and Poet. She was one of the most talented poets of India. She wrote mesmerizing prose in Malayalam and English. Her poems compel women to break the shackles of sexual and domestic oppression. Therefore, they are relevant even today. Kamala Das published her daring memoir, Ente Katha (My Story), and Childhood in Malabar, Summer in Calcutta among many anthologies of poetry and writings.

She was unapologetic with her honest expression. She was ahead of her time due to her shockingly progressive attitude towards female sexuality. Some have even called her poetry ‘the poetry of confession and protest’. Therefore, her poetry has also been compared to Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton’s work.

Speaker | Personality Details
Author and Poet

Amrita Pritam is a  Novelist and Poet. She was the first woman to win Sahitya Akademi Award. Pritam was one of the most prominent poets of India. She wrote in both Punjabi and Hindi languages. Pinjar is among her most notable works. 

Amrita Pritam’s writings explore hope, love, loss and longing in the daily lives of women. She crafts realistic women characters with empathy. Her writings record the social history of women of India. She writes about the fate of humanity and existential dread. Her stories express her anguish over the massacre and riots during the partition era. They shed light on the brutality of men and the impact of riots on women.

Speaker | Personality Details
Arundhati Roy
Author & Activist

Arundhati Roy is a writer and an activist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. She dedicated herself to social causes and wrote her opinion about the political and social state, not only of India but also of the world. She has been extremely vocal about casteism, gendered and religious violence. It is a writer’s duty to hold up a mirror to the evils of society and Roy does it unapologetically.

Speaker | Personality Details
Author and Historian | Website

Urvashi Butalia is an Author, activist, and historianShe has written books centred around the lives of women and social history. The Other Side Of Silence: Voices From The Partition Of India is her most notable work. It explores the impact of India- Pakistan Partition on women and children. The book tells the stories of women and children who lost their lives in the 1947 India-Pakistan partition. Butalia's writing asks about the price of partition paid by women and children. It breaks the silence around the sexual violence of partition.

Urvashi Butalia also set up India’s first feminist publishing house, called Kali for Women, that now runs as Zubaan Books, an imprint. Butalia has also written for The Guardian and The Times of India among many other outlets.

Speaker | Personality Details
Chitra Banerjee Devakaruni
Author | Website

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing included in over 50 anthologies, including Best American Short Stories,  O.Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Her book of short stories, Arranged Marriage,  won an American Book Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award and the PEN Josephine Miles Award for fiction. 

She writes prose and poetry encompassing a wide variety of themes, with much focus on the immigrant experience of South Asian women and Indian history, mythology and retellings. She shows the experiences and struggles involved in women trying to find their own identities.She urges women to come out and tell their own stories, re-writing history that has always unfairly glorified men.

In Mythology, she has written the Palace of Illusions and the Forest of Enchantments.   A complete list of works can be seen on Good Reads

Speaker | Personality Details
Author, Poet, and Activist | Website

 

 Meena Kandasamy is a Writer, Translator, and an Activist. She writes about the exploitation of women,  feminism in India, and the Caste Annihilation Movement. She is popularly known for her book When I Hit You Or A Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Wife which was longlisted for the International Women’s Prize for Fiction. It is a shocking and provocative story of a young woman trapped in an abusive marriage.

Meena Kandasamy’s poetry and writings embody her long fight against the violent systems of caste and gender oppression. She writes about caste, sexual violence and gender oppression. , Her writing compels readers to reject the societal systems of caste and gender.

Speaker | Personality Details
Shashi Despande
Novelist and Short Story Writer

Shashi Deshpande (born 1938) is an Indian novelist. She won the Sahitya Akademi Award for the novel That Long Silence in 1990 and the Padma Shri award in 2009. Her novel Shadow Play was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize in 2014.

Speaker | Personality Details
Author

Kavita Kane is an Indian writer and columnist. She is popularly known for writing Mythological Fiction. She has written many feminist retellings of Hindu Mythology. Her bestselling novel is Karna's wife: the Outcast Queen.  Her second novel, Sita's Sister, explores the enigmatic character in Ramayana, Urmila, through a feminist lens.

Kavita has over 20 years of experience working in various media houses - Magna Publications, Daily News and Analysis and The Times of India. After the success of her debut novel, Karna's Wife, she opted to become a full-time author. Today, she is considered a revolutionary force in Indian writing, mainly because she has brought in feminism where it is most needed-in mythology.

Genre:  Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mythological Fiction

Speaker | Personality Details
Author | Website

Manju Kapur is a Novelist and Professor. Her first novel Difficult Daughters won the 1999 Commonwealth Prize for First Novels. She is the author of many books including A Married Woman which was also adapted for television. She also taught at Delhi University for over twenty years.

Manju Kapur dares to defy convention with her bold and honest representation of Indian women. She captures their longing and quest for identity in the male-dominated Indian society. Her writing tackles the difficulties of an Indian marriage. It captures the lives of Indian middle-class women with bold honesty. The protagonists in her books often struggle against patriarchal customs and tradition. Therefore, her writing transcends the barriers of time.