BOOK REVIEWS GUIDELINE

USAWA BOOK REVIEW PITCHGUIDE & WISHLIST – 2023

We intend to curate the Book Section of Usawa, guided by the overarching gender-sensitive, feminist framework, which underpins the magazine’s politics.

This does not imply that we will only focus on books with feminist concerns, or espousing a feminist politics. This also does not imply that we will only focus on books which foreground the complexity of doing gender and its manifold interplays with other axis of identities, such as race, class, and caste. Hence, the list of books shared hereafter merely reflect our inclinations, and are suggestive, rather than prescriptive.

Further, though both of the above caveats will be high on our priority, our underpinning vision will be to highlight the ‘struggles and dialogues’ under progress in the field of popular culture, and how a particular text manifests, responds, expands, critiques, or adds to, these struggles and dialogues. We understand that the question of power (in the Foucauldian sense) is ontologically embedded within both these terms, ‘struggle’, and ‘dialogue’. While reviewers are free to engage with a book as they see fit, what we would be most interested to know and showcase is how power struggles – related to gender, caste, class, race (among others) – are enacted, played out, and even resolved within a text. For instance, we would be intrigued to know how Tanuj Solanki’s reworking of the thematic (and political) troupe of the ‘Dalit masculine body’ in his recent novel, Manji’s Mayhem (2022), challenges popular perceptions of caste and class. Likewise, we look forward to a critique of the role that ‘the family’ plays in the formation of queer subjectivities in Neel Patel’s Tell Me How to Be (2022).

Conversely, we would be intrigued by how certain texts engage with, critique, or provide insights, about the extrinsic, broader field of Culture. For instance, can Nivedita Menon’s arguments in her book, Seeing like a Feminist (2012), be employed as a counter-argument to Post-feminism (as defined by Angela McRobbie). Likewise, what does Anthony Joseph’s recent TS Eliot Prize-winning book, Sonnets for Albert (2022), which is essentially about a son’s relationship with his father who was largely absent during the former’s growing up years, have to say about the ongoing crisis in masculinity, and its inter-generational residues.

Given that a lot of the issues we want to talk about and cover are of a perennial nature, we have drawn a subsection, called, Perennial. The books listed within this subsection go beyond the caveat of having been published in the last 1-2 years. Rather, these are of the timeless variety, drawn with a two-fold intention. Firstly, we would like/want to foreground these texts in popular imagination. Secondly, we would love to showcase how reviewers respond to, or have been affected by these texts, thus foregrounding their perennial relevance. Particularly regarding the books in this section, but also similar books depending on the reviewer’s choice, we would be interested to receive 1000-1500 word, free-flowing essays/ reviews, about how these books have affected you, or have shaped critical discourses in popular culture, according to you.

For Fiction/ Poetry and Non-Fiction books (Section 1 & 2), we would be happy to receive 1000-1500 word, insightful reviews and commentaries. Looking forward to receiving your submissions by 30 April 2023,
Ankush, Books Editor, Usawa Literary Review, ankush@usawa.in

1. Fiction & Poetry

Tell me how to be, Neel Patel, Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2022
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka, Penguin, 2022
Valli, Sheela Tomy, Harper Perennial/ Harper Collins, 2022
The Education of Yuri, Jerry Pinto, Speaking Tiger, 2022
Independence, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Harper Collins India, 2022.
Manjhi’s Mayhem, Tanuj Solanki, Penguin, 2022.
Time is a Mother, Ocean Vuong, Random House, 2022.
The World that Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia, Edited by Aditi Angiras & Akhil Katyal, Penguin, 2020.

2. Non-Fiction

My Subconsciously Feminist Father, Yashika Singla, Aleph, 2023
The Right to Sex, Amia Srinivasan, Bloomsbury, 2022
Lies Our Mothers Told Us, Nilanjana Bhowmick, Aleph, 2022.
Smashing the Patriarchy, Sindhu Rajasekharan, Aleph, 2022.
Period Matters: Menstruation in South Asia, Edited by Farah Ahamed, Macmillian, 2022
Swimming in our Oceans, Pragya Bhagat, Zubaan Books, 2022.
Love’s Rites: Same-sex Marriages in Modern India, Ruth Vanita, Penguin, 2021.
The Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex and Sexuality in India, Madhavi Menon, Speaking Tiger, 2021.
How to Raise a Feminist Son: A Memoir and Manifesto, Sonora Jha. Penguin, 2021
Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence, Sharayana Bhattacharya, Harper Collins, 2021
No Straight Thing was Ever Made: Essays on Mental Health, Penguin, 2021.
equALLY: Stories by Friends of the Queer World, Edited by Srini Ramaswamy & Ramakrishna Sinha, Rupa Books, 2021.

3. Perennial

The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit, Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing and Abolition, Thenmozhi Soundarajan, Pengion Random House, 2022
The Girl in White Cotton, Avni Doshi, Penguin, 2020.
The Carpet Weaver, Nemat Sadat, Penguin Viking, 2019.
Milk Teeth, Amrita Mahale, Context, 2019.
The Silence and the Storm: Narratives of Violence against Women in India, Kalpana Sharma, Aleph Book Company, 2019.
Gendering Caste: Through a Feminist Lens, Uma Chakravarti, SAGE Publications, 2018.
Criminal Love? Queer Theory, Culture, and Politics in India, R Raja Rao, Sage, 2017
A Gift of Goddess Lakshmi, Manobi Bandopadhyay & Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey, Penguin, 2017.
I am Vidya: A Transgender’s Journey, Living Smile Vidya, Aleph, 2013
Cobalt Blue, Sachin Kundalkar, Penguin, 2013.
Seeing Like a Feminist, Nivedita Menon, Penguin, 2012.
The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story, A Revathi, Penguin, 2010.
Reframing Masculinities: Narrating the Support Practices of Men, Radhika Chopra, Orient BlackSwan, 2007.
Made in India: Decolonisations, Queer Sexualities, Trans/ national Projects, Suparna Bhaskaran, Palgrave Macmillian, 2005.
Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between life and death, Judith Butler, Columbia University Press, 2002.
Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing from India, Edited by Ashwani Sukthankar, Penguin, 1999.
Yaraana: Gay Writings from South Asia, Edited by Hoshang Merchant, Penguin, 1999.