Experimentalism in the Face of Fascism
Writer Meena Kandasamy, in conversation with Advisory Editor Aparna Gopalan.
There is a certain overpowering influence when this totalitarian power is coming to get you. Then you turn to the most absurd forms of storytelling and play. How do you laugh at untrammeled power? Either you are completely terrorized by it, or you completely delegitimize its authority by laughing in its face and doing the most absurd things.
RECOMMENDED: The Orders Were to Rape You: Tigresses in the Tamil Eelam Struggle, the newest book by Kandasamy (Navayana, 2021).
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MEENA KANDASAMY is an anti-caste activist, poet, novelist and translator. Her writing aims to deconstruct trauma and violence, while spotlighting the militant resistance against caste, gender, and ethnic oppressions. She explores this in her poetry and prose, most notably in her books of poems such as Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010), as well as her three novels, The Gypsy Goddess (2014), When I Hit You (2017), and Exquisite Cadavers (2019). Her latest work is a collection of essays, The Orders Were to Rape You: Tamil Tigresses in the Eelam Struggle (2021). Her novels have been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Hindu Lit Prize. She has been a fellow of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (2009), a Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow at the University of Kent (2011) and a fellow of the Berlin-based Junge Akademie (AdK). In 2022, she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL), United Kingdom. Activism is at the heart of her literary work; she has translated several political texts from Tamil to English, and previously held an editorial role at The Dalit, an alternative magazine. She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics.