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Address Book

 | Book Awards 2022 | English Non-fiction

Address Book

Locked down and housebound, the author leafs through her address book, looking for a name and number from long ago. As she turns the pages and sees the entries in it, she recalls the many remarkable encounters and experiences she has had in her 35 years as a feminist publisher. Writers, publishers, friends and co-travellers, all part of an international women’s movement and of an internationalism in publishing that set it apart from the multinational corporate model, then and now. The books she made, the authors she published, the issues she raised, and the friendships she forged, North and South — this little book offers a glimpse into what has been a wonderfully rich and rewarding feminist endeavour, and the sheer exhilaration of being at its cutting edge.

Full Title: Address Book: A Publishing Memoir in the Time of COVID

Author: Ritu Menon
Publisher: Women Unlimited

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

Locked down and housebound, Ritu Menon leafs through her address book, looking for a name and number from long ago. As she turns the pages and sees the entries in it, she recalls the many remarkable encounters and experiences she has had in her 35 years as a feminist publisher. Writers, publishers, friends and co-travellers, all part of an international women’s movement and of an internationalism in publishing that set it apart from the multinational corporate model, then and now. The books she made, the authors she published, the issues she raised, and the friendships she forged, North and South — this little book offers a glimpse into what has been a wonderfully rich and rewarding feminist endeavour, and the sheer exhilaration of being at its cutting edge.

Address Book... is not only a repository of her [Menon’s] numerous friendships and professional relationships but also a veritable map of her wanderings across the globe, a testimony to a life richly lived, beliefs firmly guarded. - Mint


About the Author: 

Ritu Menon co-founded Kali for Women, India’s first feminist press, in 1984, and is founder-director of Women Unlimited, an associate of KfW. She is the author of several books, among them the groundbreaking Borders & Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition; Out of Line: a literary and political biography of Nayantara Sahgal; Loitering With Intent: Diary of a Happy Traveller; and editor of a number of anthologies of prose, poetry and memoirs. ZOHRA! A Biography in Four Acts is her latest book.


Excerpt: 

One of the first books we published as Kali — and the first that was co-published under licence from Zed — was Kumari Jayawardena’s Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (1986), in which she argued that the feminist impulse in colonised countries arose at the same time as their awakening to, and struggles for, independence, that feminism and nationalism were co-terminus. It was an important claim, and a necessary one, that countered the view (often shrill) that the non-West was merely mimicking the West’s movement for women’s liberation; that women in the South were “bra burners”, like their militant counterparts in societies whose culture and “traditions” were alien. The Indian Left was part of this chorus, so did they think, then, that Marx was from Kerala?

Kumari is a Sri Lankan socialist feminist, a leading light in her country, known for her work on the labour movement, and her consistent championing of the cause of the underdog. Publishing her book, and Kamla Bhasin’s sustained work with women in South Asia, were responsible for our own long involvement with the women’s movements in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and as a feminist publisher, with women’s writing in all three. My Address Book for South Asia is a kind of (personalised) history of the issues and challenges we faced as women, and as feminists, in the region, and our response to them as writers and publishers.


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