In Pandemic Times: Literary Memories
Muneeza Shamsie
ADDRESS BOOK: A PUBLISHING MEMOIR IN THE TIME OF COVID by Ritu Menon Women Unlimited, New Delhi, , 144 pp., 300.00
September 2021, volume 45, No 9

Ritu Menon is among the pioneers of feminist publishing. Through Kali for Women which she co-founded with Urvashi Butalia in 1984, and later Women Unlimited of which Menon is the founder-director, she has provided a platform for women writers and new voices from South Asia, Palestine, Britain, Europe, America and other lands. Address Book: A Memoir in the Time of Covid  consists of her diary entries between May and November 2020.  During this pandemic time, her awareness of silent streets, chirping birds, brilliant flowers, sorrow and solitude, lead on to her reflections on daily events, newspaper reports and photographs.  All this alongside the names in her address book develops into a rich and fascinating journey into memory.  She brings to life small incidents, important events and the many colleagues, writers and translators that she has known. Into this she interweaves important milestones in feminist writing and publishing, to create an invaluable e-contemplation of past, present and future.

The first entry, on 4th May 2020, begins with her accessing the internet, thus asserting its role in Covid lives for communication, information and much else.  In her newly downloaded e-copy of the The New Yorker, she notices ‘this stunning beautiful photograph of Park Avenue’, but the place is deserted.

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