'Writing [can] reclaim entire landscapes of the unspoken'
Talking books with Mavra Rana, Literature and cultural studies teacher and book blogger
What are you reading now?
Currently, Madhuri Vijay's debut novel The Far Field and a non-fiction book, She Said, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, which details the Weinstein case and its impact.
What are the books that changed your life?
Toni Morrison's Beloved shook me to the core. It made me realise that writing had the unique power of seamlessly connecting the personal and the political, that in giving voice to one extraordinary story, one can also reclaim entire landscapes of the unspoken. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was the first work I ever read which focused on mental illness. Literature can portray the inner workings of the mind beautifully to help understand its trials and traumas like no other art form. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the one book everyone should read. The confident ease, clarity and intelligence with which Adichie talks about feminism can transform anyone in one sitting. It will take you one step closer to understanding yourself in relation to the world around.
A book that you believe is underrated?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Often regarded as just a coming-of-age story, it isn't given the literary merit it deserves. It has one of the most memorable first person accounts by an endearing narrator with a charming and moving story everyone can connect with at any age.
Who would you consider a memorable literary character?
Jane Eyre - for her intelligence, self-sufficiency and personal evolution. She was my first feminist heroine.
Your favourite book quote.
"Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall" - Virginia Woolf.
(As told to Maheshpreet Kaur Narula)