Author(s): Catriona Mitchell
Walking Towards Ourselves gets behind the headlines and finds out what it means to be an Indian woman today. Walk in the shoes of some of India's foremost women writers and thinkers, and go on a journey into their intimate lives, to places you haven't been. From the film sets of Bollywood to a closeted marital home in a Tamil Nadu village; from the slick boardroom of an online dating app to a makeshift bamboo house in the post-cylone Sunderbans; from the rigours of a beauty parlour, where skin bleaching is the norm, to a home for abandoned girls in Karnataka - walk with them. Walk with them as they report from Mumbai's streets alone at night, as they grapple with domestic violence, as they search for love through marriage brokers, as they learn to speak their minds, as they lay claim to their bodies, as they choose to be partnered or not, to become mothers or not, to make art, to make love, to make meaning of their lives. Reaching across different strata of society, religion and language, this anthology creates a kaleidoscope of distinct and varied real-life stories. Told with startling honesty, piercing insight, moments of poetry, and flashes of humour, Walking Towards Ourselves is a timely exploration of what it means to be a woman in India in a time of intense and incredible change. Authors include Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, award-winning author of The Mistress of Spices, The Palace of Illusions, Shadowland and Oleander Girl; Justice Leila Seth, the first woman appointed to the High Court in Delhi and member of the committee constituted to review rape laws after the 2012 bus rape; Deepti Kapoor, acclaimed author of A Bad Character; Meena Kandasamy, prize-winning Dalit poet and activist; Ira Trivedi, best-selling author of The Great Indian Love Story and India in Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century; and Tisca Chopra, Bollywood actress and memorist. Other contributors include: Anjum Hasan, Sharanya Manivannan, Margaret Mascarenhas, Annie Zaidi, Tishani Doshi, Nirupama Dutt, Anita Agnihotri, Salma, Ambai and Namita Gohkale.
"In this collection, 19 of India's most talented female writers, share their experience of what it means to be a woman during India's "gender revolution". These brave pieces of writing are part of an ongoing conversation about India today." Mind Food
A blend of young and old voices (most of them well known; one anonymous) provides the book variety and perspective. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that the younger writers come across as more candid and emphatic, while the older ones sound milder and more circumspect in their writing. Overall though, the compilation is a smooth concatenation of ‘mini-memoirs’. It isn’t possible to delve upon each piece individually, but that hardly makes any less significant than the others. The scope of the subject is so vast and the repertoire of women writers so great, that sequels or series could – and perhaps should – be a distinct possibility.
Divya Dubey – Hindustan Times (JC BookGrocer)
Catriona Mitchell is a writer, editor and literary events programmer who fell in love with India initially through its literature when in her teens, and later via her first actual visit in 2007. In 2009, she received an Asialink Arts Residency with Teamwork Arts and Jaipur Literature Festival ( JLF) to conduct research into the work of twenty-four contemporary Indian authors. Since then, she has had an ongoing engagement with JLF (in her mind the most vivid event on the planet), which continues to fuel her deep interest in contemporary Indian literature and culture. In 2012 Catriona co-created the Bookwallah train tour which took Indian authors, Australian authors and a portable, pop-up library of Australian books through South India by train for a month, and delivered live events at every stop along the way. Bookwallah won an Australian Federal Government arts award in 2013. Catriona directed, shot and edited a thirty-minute documentary of the Bookwallah tour, which screened in India and Australia. She has a Masters in Writing, and an M Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. She is a former Program Director of the Ubud Writers Readers Festival, Bali. Passionate about telling compelling women's stories, Catriona publishes conversations with remarkable women from around the world in an online magazine called Brava! brave women, bright ideas.