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Coming Out as Dalit: A Memoir

Shortlisted | Book Awards 2020 | English Non-fiction

Coming Out as Dalit: A Memoir

Author: Yashica Dutt
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s tragic suicide in January 2016 started many charged
conversations around caste-based discrimination in universities in India. For Yashica Dutt, a
journalist living in New York, this was the moment to stop living a lie, and admit to something
that she had hidden from friends and colleagues for over a decade—that she was Dalit.
In Coming Out as Dalit, Dutt recounts the exhausting burden of living with the secret and how
she was terrified of being found out. She talks about the tremendous feeling of empowerment
she experienced when she finally stood up for herself and her community and shrugged off
the fake upper-caste identity she’d had to construct for herself. As she began to understand
the inequities of the caste system, she also had to deal with the crushing guilt of denying her
history and the struggles of her grandparents and the many Dalit reformers who fought for
equal rights.
In this personal memoir that is also a narrative of the Dalits, she writes about the journey of
coming to terms with her identity and takes us through the history of the Dalit movement;
the consequences of her community’s lack of access to education and culture; the need for
reservation; the paucity of Dalit voices in mainstream media; Dalit women’s movements
and their ongoing contributions; and attempts to answer crucial questions about caste and
privilege. Woven from personal narratives from her own life as well as that of other Dalits,
this book forces us to confront the injustices of caste and also serves as a call to action.


About the Author: 

Yashica Dutt is a New York-based journalist who writes on gender, identity and culture. She was previously a principal correspondent with Brunch and the Hindustan Times and is the founder of Documents of Dalit Discrimination.


Review: 

Not only a memoir but also an extensively researched, layered book where significant moments in Dalit history have been traced to present events.’- India Today ‘It is not often that a memoir is able to transcend its writer’s own lived experience to become a powerful social commentary. Coming Out as Dalit is one such work.’- Business Standard ‘Written in lucid prose and framed by a strong commitment to Dalit rights and gender justice, Coming Out...is bound to resonate with victims of caste injustice. ’- The Hindu ‘Yashica’s memoir is...a fast-paced socio-political tale from a generation which has just arrived and will play a major role in influencing the millennial expression on being a Dalit.’- Tribune


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