Seeing Like a Feminist by Nivedita Menon: Everyone needs to read this. It’s like the Indian version of Cailtin Moran’s How to be a Woman except admittedly a tad more theoretical and not funny-storyish. When I say “Indian version”, it’s located in the Indian context but it very much draws on global streams of thought in feminism, sometimes contesting them from the Asian context, often synergising. And when I say “theoretical”, there are some big words like “hegemony” in there but Menon actually does asterisks with simpler explanations to these and she also at the outset tells the reader that they can ignore the references to theoretical texts, which she included only in case people wanted to look them up. So please don’t be discouraged by that. I want everybody to read this book so that we are all up to speed on the currents of thought right now so that you don’t have to be the one having delayed epiphanies while those you have read the book stand by inwardly eye-rolling. If circumventing the inner eye-rolling of the likes of me isn’t enough motivation, it touches on just about every sticky little subject – marriage, prostitution, (yeah, I put those both next to each other intentionally), commercial surrogacy, abortion vs female feoticide, Valentine’s Day, honour killings, and should being called a whore be taken as a compliment. See, I got you with that last one, didn’t I? Now go get this book and read it as a favour to me. It’s only a slim volume anyway.
The Fabulist Feminist by Suniti Namjoshi: I first encountered Namjoshi’s work when I read one of her Blue Donkey stories in a textbook at university and I wanted more. So when I saw that a collection of her work was out, I had to get it, even though it meant sacrificing Maggi in the service of transporting a hardcover from India to Hong Kong. Of course, it doesn’t occur to me to just buy the book in Hong Kong because that would be stretching my kanjoosi too far. It is a great read alongside Seeing Like a Feminist and also while eating breakfast and your children are pottering around occasionally putting sharp-edged things into their mouths as the stories are short. It also makes you think, I wish these were illustrated so that I could tell their children these stories to amuse them instead of leaving sharp-edged things around the house. Or that I could photocopy them and circulate them at dinner parties with the appetizers (they are shortish stories, often retellings of fairytales) so that people would quickly ingest them and go “oh” and stop whatever ridiculous thing they were saying thereafter. Forever.