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Memory of Light

Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

Memory of Light

Full Title: Memory of Light

Author: Ruth Vanita
Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

Preparations for King George the Third’s fiftieth birthday gala are in full swing in Lucknow. As poets and performers vie to be part of the show, Chapla Bai, a dazzling courtesan from Kashi, briefly enters this competitive world, and sweeps the poet Nafis Bai off her feet. An irresistible passion takes root, expanding and contracting like a wave of light. Over two summers, aided by Nafis’s friends, the poets Insha and Rangin, and Sharad, himself in love with a man, they exchange letters and verses, feeding each other the heady fruit of desire. When Chapla leaves for home, they part with the dream of building a life together. Can their relationship survive the distances?

Narrated in the voice of Nafis, Memory of Light weaves an exquisite web of conversations, songs, reminiscences around a life-changing love.


About the Author: 

Ruth Vanita taught at Delhi University for twenty years and is now professor at the University of Montana. She was founding co-editor of Manushi, 1978-90. She is the author of several books, including Love's Rite: Same-Sex Marriages in Modern India (2005); Gender, Sex and the City: Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India 1780-1870 (2012); and Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema (2017). She is the co-editor of Same-Sex Love in India: A Literary History, and has translated many works of fiction and poetry from Hindi and Urdu to English, most notably Chocolate: Stories on Male-Male Desire by Pandey Bechan Sharma 'Ugra' (2008). This is her first work of fiction. She divides her time between Missoula and Gurgaon.


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