KATHAKAL: Indu Menon; DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam 686001. Rs. 140.

As a short story writer, Indu Menon can be said to have succeeded Kamala Das, who traversed the worlds of poetry and fiction with ease. This, however, is not to suggest that she is a story-teller cast in the ‘Kamala Das mould'. Far from plodding along the trodden path, she courageously explores new areas.

Indu Menon's themes as well as technique compel attention. Going beyond issues such as gender and sexuality, which young women writers are generally preoccupied with, she challenges Kerala society that is showing unmistakable signs of regression, at various other levels too. For instance, she takes on the forces of communalism in a way few other writers, man or woman, have done. Hers is the voice of the ‘New Woman', which is yet to make itself heard in the public space.

Every word is a wound, Menon says in a prefatory note that carries intimations of a literary manifesto. In it, she casts herself as a scared girl standing in a long, unlit pathway full of thorns and poisonous snakes. Scared maybe, but certainly not helpless. Indeed, in this volume she comes through as a fighter — a lone guerrilla, if you want to put it that way.

The book is saddled with four disguised, superfluous introductions by male writers of earlier generations. Incidentally, quite a few of them use the term “sabotage” while referring to Indu Menon's writing.

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