12 Indian Women Authors To Watch Out For In 2021
At Bound, we’re connoisseurs of the finest Indian literature and we sure have a lot to look forward to in 2021. Indian women writers have time and again broken the notion that they mainly write domestic fiction. The women on our list have explored bold themes like sex and sexuality. They have experimented with styles and forms and broached difficult topics like honour killings with insightful reportage. We are also looking forward to some stellar translations like Priya K Nair’s translation of Dr B Umadathan’s memoir. On this list are some long-awaited works from bestselling writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, Anuja Chauhan and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni along with some promising debuts. Read on and mark your calendars for these exciting releases.
‘The Last Queen’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This novel tells the passionate tale of the oft-forgotten Maharani Jindal Kaur, retold in Chitra Banerjee’s authentic and dauntless style. We all need a role model and this novel delivers by bringing to life one of the bravest queens of the nineteenth century. Divakaruni, the queen of mythology retells the parable of a queen who broke gender norms and led her troops to war against outsiders or ‘firangs’. Maharani Jindal Kaur was a woman who moved armies with sheer indomitable will. Published on 20th January by HarperCollins India, this book is sure to ignite a myriad of feelings.
‘Club You To Death’ by Anuja Chauhan
A murder mystery steeped in desi humour and head-spinning romance, this novel by the author of ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ is sure to keep you at the edge of your seats. Slated for release on 26th February by HarperCollins India, this whodunnit, written in Chauhan’s unfiltered comical style is just what we need when we feel like escaping the mundane. Set in a posh neighbourhood in Delhi, this novel by Anuja Chauhan promises to be unforgettable. The author describes it far from a gruesome or gory experience but rather a cosy and immersive crime. Just what we need after months of exile in our own homes, no?
‘The Dating Plan’ by Sarah Desai
Daisy Patel is a meticulous, detail-oriented, software engineer who lives life through a series of to-do lists. Liam Murphy is a carefree bachelor and venture capitalist who intends to prove his parents wrong. They have absolutely nothing in common except having parents that are hell-bent on getting them married. Set to be released on 6th March by Berkeley Books, this warm, fuzzy, nuanced feel-good tale of quirky characters finding each other is quite anticipated. An unconventional love story, that begins just as a farce to convince and pacify nosy Indian relatives, blossoms into an intriguing tale of warm friendship and spellbound love. After a desolate year with little to no human contact, a beautiful romance is just what this book offers and is a perfect read for lovers of subtle, yet absorbing tales of romance.
‘Make Up Break Up’ by Lily Menon
We love stories. Hate turned to love stories even better. Annika and Hudson are rivals in every way fathomable. At work, at social scenarios and everything in between. The constant need to better and surpass each other is almost exhausting but they do it anyway. This novel is a hilarious love story with Menon’s trademark sunny disposition and an extra dose of intensity. It promises to be a fun, light read, for those days that you just need something to make you laugh. Expected on 2nd February by Hachette UK, this enemies to lovers parody is bound to have you splitting at your sides, while completely enamoured by the very concept of love.
‘Sach Kahun Toh’ by Neena Gupta
A memoir by one of the most influential women in Bollywood is definitely something to look forward to. Neena Gupta frequently drops truth bombs on social media and has defied conventional trajectories of women’s careers in Bollywood. Her memoir is sure to reveal some of the bold choices she had to make. The actor’s childhood in Delhi, her time at the National School of Drama, her move to Bombay in 1980s, her struggles within a patriarchal industry all narrated with a trademark candidness that only Neena Gupta can encapsulate is what makes this one worth the wait. Slated for a summer release by Penguin Random House, this promises to be an unapologetic, no holds barred personal account. What more can we ask for?
‘Illuminated’ by Anindita Ghose
Shashi discovers she has no individual identity, after the sudden loss of her husband who was an influential architect. Her ambitious daughter Tara who has a penchant for Sanskrit, finds herself in a relationship with an older man that threatens to consume the very essence of her. In addition to their recent loss, the ever-present mother-daughter conflict is a prominent theme in the novel. The duo have opposing ideologies and conflicting world views. The novel explores multiple perspectives and is steeped in a rich use of language and prose. With a penchant for Hegelian philosophy and Sanskrit literature, Ghose has always been intrigued by the concept of fringe philosophical concepts. This highly anticapted debut novel published by HarperCollins India is set to release in July.
‘Water’ by Mridula Ramesh
Author of ‘The Climate Solution’, Mridula Ramesh, has always been passionate about global causes. The founder of the Sundaram Climate Institute, her forthcoming book ‘Water’ focuses on the water crisis in India. This book highlights the political and social aspects that prevent India from conserving and using resources efficiently. The author reveals the scenario awaiting us if we’re not careful with the use of our most precious resource. To be released by Hachette India, this urgent book calls attention to what is already a precarious situation.
‘Dead Men Tell Tales’ by Dr B Umadathan, translated by Priya K Nair
Dr B Umadathan is a renowned forensic surgeon who has worked on spine chilling cases like the Sister Abhaya case (1992) and the Chacko murders (1984). He was also popularly known as the Sherlock Holmes of Kerala. His cases shook the nation and seemed like plots right out of a gruesome murder novel. His memoir was originally published in 2001 and written in Malayalam. It has been translated to English by Priya K. Nair, a formidable translator who has translated books exploring the complex paradigms of gender and sexuality. Expected to be released in March by HarperCollins India, this gripping memoir is raw and unfiltered to the core.
‘Everything Breaks’ by Tavleen Singh
Columnist and writer Tavleen Singh’s first work of fiction is a story of love, loss and redemption set against the backdrop of an unforgiving society. The author of ‘Everything is a Broken Tryst’, is known to be sassy and straight forward. She doesn’t sugarcoat words in her weekly political columns for The Indian Express and that’s what we look forward to in her debut novel to be published by HarperCollins.
‘Lahore: The Partition Trilogy’ (Volume 1) by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
From the author of ‘The Radiance Of A Thousand Suns’, comes the promise of a riveting trilogy. Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, having never experienced Partition herself, was immediately taken aback by how we had normalized the entirety of the violence. Volume 1 of this three-part series, will be published in 2021 by Harper Collins India. This highly anticipated series, set in the year of Independence and Partition tells stories of immeasurable suffering and is sure to expand our understanding of this catastrophic event.
‘The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing’ by Sonia Faleiro
The 2014 murder of two young Dalit girls Padma and Lalli, shook the nation and instigated a national conversation about sex and violence. The image of two young girls hanging from a mango tree incited horror and despair at the lack of humanity. It forced those in power to have conversations about topics they simply refused to even mention. With nuanced observations about caste and sexuality, the book poses questions at a deeper societal level about the so-called values of honour and pride that we hold dear. Written by Sonia Faleiro, an award-winning journalist in her patented style, this true crime book is narrative reportage at its best. Published by Penguin Hamish Hamilton on 25th January, the book makes for a disturbing but necessary read.
‘Whereabouts’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
This is a story that oscillates between belonging and solitude, reflective of Jhumpa Lahiri’s own movement between cultures. Originally published in Italian under the title ‘Dove Mi Trovo’, this is the first time Lahiri has translated one of her own works into English. It’s a novel that isn’t plot-driven. Rather, it focuses on the intricacies of language and the paradox that is inner loneliness, the kind that has no remedy. Experimenting with new genres and moving to a second language, is what enabled Lahiri to transcend space and time. The protagonist in each scene is crafted with delicate melancholy, while conscious of the physical universe around her like a museum, a bar, the seaside. She retains a sense of mystery that evades the senses but captures the heart. Scheduled for release on 27th April by Knopf Publications, it’s a novel brimming with blunt and sincere emotions. It is also Lahiri’s first novel since the Lowlands, published in 2013 and is not one you can afford to miss.
About the author
Shanaya Sequeira is a 19-year-old student from Mumbai. As an introverted kid, she took refuge in books and has been hooked ever since. She would love nothing more than to disappear into a Kafkaesque universe crafted by Natsume Soseki. She can’t resist cosy cafés.