Given the range it represents in terms of location, generation, community and caste, this volume of eighteen interviews seeking to explore issues related to gender and censorship often invites the reader to lose herself in individual accounts that open up unfamiliar areas of experience, of history and of political struggle. There is also the absorption of watching how memories of childhood surroundings and literary apprenticeship are gathered into coherence, the delight of incidental detail (Jupaka Subhadra describing the luxury of time at university, where friends she visited would say, “‘Take a bath, and study.’ I just loved that”) and of words on the business of words (Rajani Parulekar, “Whatever narrative thread I’ve wanted to unravel, I’ve always done through my long poems…. I’ve never felt the need to embroider it further into a short story”). What is really valuable, however, is the way the book repays rereading, and one sees how the separate interviews speak to each other, how similar words are inflected differently and how the ideas of selfhood or history that we sense being shadowed by the words of one writer begin to assume body through the remarks of another.
January 2006, volume 30, No 1