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Women, Dreaming

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Salma is a writer of poetry and fiction. Based in the small town of Thuvarankurichi, she is recog... Read More

Product Description

Salma is a writer of poetry and fiction. Based in the small town of Thuvarankurichi, she is recognized as a writer of growing importance in Tamil literature. Her work combines a rare outspokenness about taboo areas of the traditional Tamil women's experience with a language of compressed intensity and startling metaphoric resonance. She has faced great adversity-including obscenity charges and violent threats for her erotic poetry, and living locked away by her family-to also become a major political leader and campaigner for women's rights. She is the subject of an eponymous documentary film by Kim Longinotto. Her debut novel, The Hour Past Midnight, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Women, Dreaming is her second novel.


Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, translator and activist who lives in Chennai and London. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch and Ms. Militancy, and the critically acclaimed novels The Gypsy Goddess and When I Hit You, Or, The Portrait of the Writer As a Young Wife, which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2018. She is the editor of the poetry collection Desires Become Demons (Tilted Axis Press 2019), in which her translations of four Tamil women poets are included alongside some by the late Lakshmi Holmström. Exquisite Cadavers is her latest novel.

'Salma's novel takes you into a world of women. It is writing that describes the inner universe of women who do not know the outside world. Salma deftly shows [how] these women navigate their sad, emotional landscape, holding time in their hands, gradually stepping outside their sorrows. Everything here is fresh, including their feminine language. Traditionalist mindsets may not be taken in by this novel where stories emerge from under the blanket of tradition, revealing that a break with the old order is inevitable'
-Perumal Murugan, Indian author, scholar and literary chronicler who writes in Tamil

'Women, Dreaming is an evocative double bill of fierce feminine lifescapes, with the iconic Salma's searing Tamil narrative rendered in translucent English by the hugely gifted Meena Kandasamy'
-Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and festival director

'Women grapple with life in a universe constructed by men, for men[,] in this moving story set in a tiny village in Tamil Nadu. Despite the claustrophobic trappings of religious patriarchy, they chart their own course and find their own voice. In Salma's splendid telling, even those who appear to remain static resist through words and silence. Meena Kandasamy's effortless translation is imbued with the fragrance of Tamil'
-T.M. Krishna, Carnatic vocalist, writer, activist and author


Mehar dreams of freedom and a life with her children. Asiya dreams of her daughter's happiness. Sajida dreams of becoming a doctor. Subaida dreams of the day when her family will become free of woes. Parveen dreams of a little independence, a little space for herself in the world. Mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, neighbours . . .
In a tiny Muslim village in Tamil Nadu, the lives of these women are sustained by the faith they have in themselves, in each other, and the everyday compromises they make. Salma's storytelling-crystalline in its simplicity, patient in its unravelling-enters this interior world of women, held together by love, demarcated by religion, comforted by the courage in dreaming of better futures.

Women, Dreaming is a beautiful novel by writer and activist Salma, translated exquisitely from the Tamil by Meena Kandasamy.

Women, Dreaming, which succeeds in presenting the inner universes of these women deprived of even a discourse of rights, is a much-needed addition to the South Asian feminist literary landscape.The defining feature of Salma's writing has been the close, uncompromising attention she brings to bear on home and marriage.This is where Salma's writing shines-we don't understand the women through graphic actions upon their bodies, as is common in the media, but through the imperfections and conversations in their minds.

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