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Top Five Works by Indian Women Writers and Poets

Post by: Kabita Sonowal














It is quite a daunting task to list the works of the Indian literary stalwarts who  were/are women. History tells us that the first known woman writer and poet was Enheduanna who was a princess and a priestess of the moon god Nanna. She was the daughter of King Sargon from the kingdom of Akkad in Mesopotamia. She lived around 2300-2225 B.C! Here is our list of some of our endearing and timeless reads by women writers and poets. In India, the first works of literature can be traced to the sixth century BC. The Therigatha nuns wrote the first  reported and documented works of literature in India and they were also the contempories of the Buddha.

A compilation of Toru Dutt’s works, Toru Dutt: Collected Prose and Poetry is a versatile body of work. This collection includes two of her novels, a book of poetry and a published poem. She lived in the mid nineteenth century and extensively traveled across Europe. She attended school in France and became well-versed in French, Bengali and English. Today she is referred to as the ‘first-romantic Bengali writer’.

An Unfinished Song by Swarnakumari Debi Ghosal is another read that is a reflection of a young girl and her life in the backdrop of India’s colonial past. Written at the end of the nineteenth century, it was first published as Kahake. It reflects on the role of English as a language and the role of women in nineteenth century India.

The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker by Indira Goswami is a literary masterpiece. It is a book that set in a backdrop of post World War II. It reveals the state of widows in a Sattra in Assam at the time of India’s independence while the political landscape is changing. This book is etched with characters that are very stark of love, longing and human foibles.

Summer in Calcutta by Kamala Das is another wonderful body of literary work. It is a collection of poetry that speaks of love and love that is certainly not romanticized. Some of these poems such as The Dance of the Eunuchs and The Freaks leave readers awestruck.

The God of Small Things by Booker-prize winner Arundhati Roy is an eloquent and brave work of fiction. A tale that involves family drama, it is set in Kerala, in a backdrop of Kerala’s politics, history and forbidden love. The sense of betrayal, love and class discrimination is beautifully portrayed.


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