Author Meghna Pant.(Photo: Arijit Sen/HT)
Author Meghna Pant.(Photo: Arijit Sen/HT)

Author Meghna Pant’s new book deals with women, violence and feminism

Meghna Pant is out with another short story collection, but says the format doesn’t find enough backing
By Manali Shah | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON SEP 01, 2016 08:41 PM IST

Meghna Pant’s second book was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. She’s out with another short story collection, but says the format doesn’t find enough backing (PS: She’s elder sister to stand-up comedian Sorabh Pant).

With her third book, Meghna Pant (35) has taken a few risks. The city-based author (One & a Half Wife, Happy Birthday and Other Stories) didn’t hold any book launches, and released her new book, The Trouble with Women, on an app. Moreover, she has once again penned a collection of short stories. “The truth of publishing that no one speaks about is that short stories don’t sell as well as novels. A lot of publishers don’t even publish them,” Pant says. Her first book of short stories, Happy Birthday and Other Stories, was long-listed for the prestigious Frank O’Connor International Award in 2014.

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The Trouble with Women tells tales of women from across urban and rural India, and captures the social realities of what they undergo -- from marital rape to molestation, to being undermined in a marriage. She is known for taking a strong feminist stance in her writing.

Pant, who is currently working on her next novel, Men Without God, began writing as a way to escape reality. “I was in an abusive relationship. Writing became my buffer. It also made me aware of what women go through. You can think of yourself as a strong, modern, independent woman. But it can still happen to you,” she says. Eight years after she walked away, she decided to speak up about it in a Tedx talk about domestic violence this January.

All in the family

As feminist inspirations go, Pant did not have to look far. Her grandmother, married as a child and widowed at 35, made sure her four daughters (she had five children) went to school. “My mother studied hard. She retired as the chief commissioner of income tax in Mumbai. My father did the exact same job as her. My brother (stand-up comedian Sorabh Pant) and I saw them play equal roles. We grew up in an egalitarian household,” she says.

Meghna Pant with her parents and brother, stand-up comedian, Sorabh
Meghna Pant with her parents and brother, stand-up comedian, Sorabh

Her novels are not the only way Pant is starting a conversation about social issues. She is the moderator of Feminist Rani – a monthly panel discussion series on feminist concerns. She is currently shooting for a new show, First Lady, for a news portal. In it, she interviews women who have broken the glass ceiling in various walks of life.

Her own career has had an interesting path. Prior to taking up writing, Pant was a financial journalist and TV anchor. “I once worked with Bloomberg-UTV in New York city, where I reported on the New York Stock Exchange, in 2008. That’s when the global markets crashed. The brokers were a bit dramatic. When they would see the cameras, they would start tearing up sheets and throw them in the air,” she chuckles.

Pant (centre) with writer Gayatri Jayaraman (left) and hair stylist Sapna Bhavnani at an edition of Feminist Rani
Pant (centre) with writer Gayatri Jayaraman (left) and hair stylist Sapna Bhavnani at an edition of Feminist Rani

Eventually, when juggling two roles of a journalist and author got too much, Pant quit to become a full-time writer. “A year’s sabbatical has turned into three years now,” she says. “The research for Men Without God took time. It’s set in the year 2022, and India and China are at war. I hope the novel’s ready by 2017.”

Read on: The Trouble with Women, by Meghna Pant, is available on the Juggernaut app
Price: Rs 70

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