Stories are fascinating. They can take you high and low, and make you feel as if you are truly a part of the plot. Although a lot of people swear by novels, there's a special charm when it comes to short stories. They are crisp and warm, and best enjoyed over a perfectly brewed cup of chai.
Here’s a look at some women who are masters in this literary form:
The renowned author is famous for her sharp literary skills, and flair for addressing social issues in the most unapologetic manner. Her most famous work is Lihaaf, which was first published in the Urdu journal Adab-i-Latif. It spoke of repressed female sexual desires, a subject often brushed under the carpet even today. This short story also landed her in an obscenity trial in Lahore.
Some of her other well-known short stories are Gainda, Tili, and Gharwali. For her significant contribution to literature, Ismat was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976.
Mahashweta Devi, known for her stories that put women at the forefront, had to be a part of this list. Although most of her writings have been in Bengali, they have been translated into various languages, including English.
She is most known for her story Draupadi, wherein the central protagonist Dopdi ensures her sense of agency is intact, even after she has been inflicted with unimaginable violence.
Another name that is worthy of mention is Ashapurna Devi, a prominent novelist and poet, who wrote in Bengali. Although she is no longer alive, her rich literary works remind us of the power of her pen.
Her short stories shed light on the plight of refugees, migration, and women, and always tug at the heartstrings. Ashapurna Devi also wrote children’s stories, and was applauded for her writing, and honoured with the Jnanpith Award and the Padma Shri.
Although Krishna was at the centre of several controversies, it never discouraged her to openly speak about female identity and sexuality, through her writings.
A Jnanpith Award winner, she was known to describe sex from the perspective of a woman, and that didn’t go down well with most critics. Some of her renowned short stories are Nafisa, Sikka Badal Gaya, Badalom Ke Ghere.
A recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award, Shashi is one of the most famous novelists of contemporary Indian literature in English. Most of her works revolve around the middle-class woman, who is held back by society.
Although most of her stories have been set against an Indian backdrop, her stories have always brought to light gender stereotypes, and its link with human relationships. Some of her well-known stories include The Legacy, The First Lady, and A Liberated Woman.
One of the most credible writers in today’s time, Anita Desai has always impressed readers with her use of poetic symbolism, and rich sounds. Her most famous story is Games At Twilight, which has a theme of childhood, innocence and disappointment, and intrigues you from the very start.
Another of her short story collections - Diamond Dust - has also garnered a lot of praise. She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize thrice.
If you are a literature aficionado, it isn’t possible that you wouldn’t have come across Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing. She is most known for her short story collection, The Interpreter of Maladies, which won her the Pulitzer Prize for Friction, as well as the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.
She has also written another set of short stories called the Unaccustomed Earth. The theme of Jhumpa’s works is the Indian immigrant experience in the US.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Indian-American author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, most known for her novel The Palace of Illusions, has also written several short stories. The collection known as the Arranged Marriage blends prose and poetry in her true style, giving readers one of her best works.
The collection features 11 stories that revolve around women who have immigrated to the US from India, and how they juggle between the two cultures.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)