22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Meena Kandasamy

Portrait Meena Kandasamy
© Teri Pengilley

The Indian writer Meena Kandasamy was born in Tamil Nadu in 1984. She received her doctorate in sociolinguistics from Anna University, Chennai.
She wrote her first poems at the age of 17 and published her first volume of poetry in 2006 under the title »Touch«. Even here, she tackled the themes of Indian caste systems and feminism, which became formative for her later work. Although she is the child of an academic and is a researcher herself, she mistrusts a highly intellectual form of expression that to her is inappropriate for the subject of oppression and can by no means be a language of the victims: »My poetry is naked, my poetry is in tears, my poetry screams in anger, my poetry writhes in pain. My poetry smells of blood, my poetry salutes sacrifice. My poetry speaks like my people, my poetry speaks for my people.« The volume of poems has been translated into several languages; German translations of selected texts from »Touch« and her second volume of poems »Ms. Militancy« (2010) appeared in the collection »Fräulein Militanz« (2014). In her novel »The Gypsy Goddess« (2014), written in English, Kandasamy tells of the massacre in Kilvenmani, southern India, in 1968, in which 42 Dalit peasants (the caste of untouchables) were burned in a hut after defending themselves against poor working conditions, demanding better pay, and joining the Communist Party. Her most recent book »When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife« (2017) deals with the role of women in modern Indian society. The novel tells the story of a newly married writer who experiences increasing social isolation and extreme violence while living with her husband. Quotes by Anne Sexton, Elfriede Jelinek and Kamala Das, which are assigned to the individual chapters as epigraphs, place the novel, which is simultaneously a reflection on the possibilities of writing to overcome the trauma of violence, in the tradition of feminist literature. Her short novel »Exquisite Cadavers« will be published in November 2019.
Kandasamy translates work by various authors from Tamil into English. She publishes the English-language magazine »The Dalit«, and also writes columns for the Internet platforms »Outlook India« and »The Hindu«, among others. Her texts have also appeared in various anthologies. She also acted in the first independent Malayalam film »Oraalppokkam« which was financed by crowdfunding. She has received numerous honors, including participation in the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa in 2009. The author divides her time between London and Vellore, south India.


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