The Parrots of desire by Amrita Narayanan

This book by Amrita Narayanan is an anthology of erotic writing spanning 3000 years, which the author dedicates to ‘modern romantic readers who identify with the joys and problems of the erotic and are passionate about keeping their lives erotic- whether by sex, literature, art or music’.
I was amused to read that Kamasutra had a chapter titled, ‘The means of getting rid of a lover’.
I was surprised to read what Andal ,(whose Thiruppavai my mom reads) wrote in agony, ‘ I shall pluck by their roots, these useless breasts, I shall fling them at his chest’ and could address her God as a ‘looting thief’ and ‘plunderer’.

I was angry with myself for being ignorant about Lihaaf (The Quilt), the most famous short story by Ismat Chughtai, an eminent Urdu writer, who was known for her revolutionary approach to feminine sexuality.

Chaptinamas by Urdu poet Ju’rat, prompted me to read more about Urdu poetry. I was fascinated to read about Rekthi, a form of feminist Urdu poetry and its proponents and how it was systematically eliminated from Urdu in the 20th century.

For a modern romantic reader like me, this book opened a new door, allowing newer insights on how erotica and sensuality were depicted in our literature. I feel thankful to the author for this compilation making a reader’s life much easier.


Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting The Story by Angela Saini


For somebody like me who works as a clinical researcher in Medical Genetics, this book by Angela Saini provided the much needed information about sexism and misogyny prevailing in science. With a shudder, I realised that  science, was not as objective as I had always imagined it to be. Angela Saini’s book reveals an important fact in scientific research, that  the sex of the observer actually determines or influences the observations made by the observer. I was shocked to read about Charles Darwin’s view of  women being biologically inferior to men. His observation was based on the fact that in Victorian era, most of the achievers were men. But his conclusion that this sex difference in achievement was due to biological factors and not societal factors,  was inappropriate.

About the author:

Angela Saini is a London based science writer, whose first book was Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World, published in 2011. Inferior is her second book, published in June 2017.

Content of the book:

In this book, the author examines the organised method which men employed over centuries to subjugate women in science. Due to this planned strategy of denigrating women, she observes that between 1901 and 2016, of the 911 people who were awarded the Nobel prize, only 48 turned out to be women. As women get older, fewer women stick to science, which is a harsh reality, even in Medical science. I read with surprise that it was not before 1945 that women were permitted to attend  Harvard Medical School. The most annoying belief that men had about women was that women were incapable biologically to be intellectually as advanced as them, where in reality, it was merely due to lack of opportunities that women could not achieve as much as men in science.

The author thoroughly examines both sides of the argument and provides unbiased  information regarding various studies conducted by eminent men and women which gives the reader a  realistic picture rather than a constricted view. The book ends with a positive note where the author describes the efforts of scientists all over the world who are methodically gathering evidence to disprove the popular belief of women being biologically inferior to men.

A handbook for my lover Rosalyn D’Mello


I procured this book from a heap of books at my bibliophile friend’s house as I felt intrigued by the book’s title and devoured it in a day. This book, declared by the author herself, as not a work of pure fiction, explores the complexities of an unconventional relationship between a 23 year old writer and a photographer who is 30 years older than her. Rosalyn D’Mello is a Delhi based art writer and author of a blog titled Cartographic dyslexia. A Handbook for my lover is her first book which was published in 2015.

The idea to document her love life dawned on her, following a casual phone conversation with her lover about her past lovers. It took her 6 long years to write the book and in that process she ‘dissected’ and examined her lover and their relationship. To observe and to be the subject of observation at the same time is a pretty difficult task to accomplish. Rosalyn D’Mello is quite successful in that attempt. I am surprised and glad that a relationship could survive such close scrutiny and exposure. Her language is intense and arousing, resulting in the book being labelled as erotica. The author wonders why there are no specific descriptions of various positions that can be adopted for sleeping together, compared to innumerable positions described for sex. In the chapter ‘The Poetics of sleep’ , she provides a vivid and poetic description of various sleep patterns they adopt. I feel the author has done justice by using all the various possibilities of language and words to explore and document an important part of her life experience. She should be appreciated for taking the lead in the narrative as we seldom get to read about the intricacies of a relationship and its inherent intense physicality from a woman’s perspective. I loved this book for its absolute clarity, lucid language and candid approach in dealing with love, which is one of the most complex phenomenon experienced by human beings.

Seeing like a feminist: Nivedita Menon


This is a must-read-book for everyone, irrespective of whether they are feminists or not. Nivedita Menon is a well known feminist thinker and teaches political thought  at the International Studies School of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. ‘Seeing like a feminist’, released in the year 2012, is a collection of essays on topics like family, body, desire, sexual violence, feminists and  women and victimisation of women. The extensive research that the author has done for this book is commendable. Nivedita Menon is easily able to articulate her thoughts and arguments which allows a reader to proceed without any hinderance or difficulty. Nivedita Menon is able to maintain a balance in her arguments even while taking a strong position. She has analysed the prevailing situations in our country, particularly in sex selection, abortion and assisted reproductive techniques, in an unbiased and unprejudiced way. The question whether the fetus inside  a mother’s womb or the mother herself has a right to decide about the fate of the fetus, has always haunted me, especially after coming to Genetics. This book has put an end to that debate in my mind. The writer, with her powerful arguments, has convinced me finally that “Children are seen in the abstract as national resources but concretely, under the present sexual division of labour, must be taken care of on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis by their mothers. Under such circumstances, I think the host body of the mother acquires the right to decide its fate.”

The Whole Shebang by Lalita Iyer

This book can be read in one go and hardly would take  an hour or two to complete. The book has a collection of essays written by Lalita Iyer on various interesting subjects in a woman’s life, ranging from menstruation to parenting. Her style of writing is simple and informal and this makes it easy for her writing to connect to a woman’s psyche. But the topics covered lacked novelty, at least as far as I was concerned. But reading  this book would help a young woman to feel at ease when dealing with the myriads of questions which pop up in her mind from time to time.

Fever dream: Samanta Schweblin


I still do not know why I chose this book to read on a sleepless night, when I was struggling hard to cope with jet lag induced by recent transatlantic travel. When I reached page 5, I realised that it was a wrong decision to choose this book when I was all alone, fighting insomnia. But I felt like I was trapped into this book or rather I was jinxed. The book was so compelling that it was hard for me to put it down, but at the same time, it was so real, weird, creepy and scary that I was hesitant to continue reading it.

May be it could be the similarity in the topography that this book reminded me of Marquez, Borges and Rulfo, all at the same time. This is the first novel written by Samanta Schweblin, from Argentina, in Spanish and translated to English by Megan McDowell. Set in a rural village in Argentina, this novel is a conversation between Amanda and David about their experiences till that particular moment. The narration disregards the concept of time and space and is intricate enough to trap you in its web. As a medical professional, I felt this book could be about pesticide (organophosphorus)poisoning because all the symptoms described, including high fever, disorientation, inability too see clearly etc , experienced by the characters, could be explained by that.

Some books are like psychedelic drugs; they provide vivid experiences and prevent you from writing about them for fear of losing the intensity of that experience. This book is one of that kind which made me fall into a slumber with Amanda, where I was living my own dream of painting a van with Amanda, David, Nina and Carla amidst the soya plants and a well. Only when I woke up the next morning, did I realise that the picture I painted was unreal but the book I read about Amanda was real.