The Literary City

Jeet Thayil And The Epic Of Names Of The Women

March 08, 2023 Explocity Podcasts Season 3 Episode 53
The Literary City
Jeet Thayil And The Epic Of Names Of The Women
Show Notes Chapter Markers

In the beginning of the episode, you will hear my guest Jeet Thayil read from his book, Names Of The Women — women whose paths crossed with Christ, and who, it is said, stayed by him during the crucifixion. And after.

I have been fortunate to read so many books since I started hosting this podcast. Each book is as wonderful and as compelling as the next. And then a book comes along, like Names Of The Women that holds the craft of writing to a higher standard.

Let me tantalizingly cycle back to that in a minute.

Penguin had sent me a copy of a book compiled and edited by Jeet — The Penguin Book Of Indian Poets — an almost 1000-page thick compendium of Indian poetry. The book was years in the making and I am sure it will be around years for the taking.

But when I had gone over to interview Jeet’s father, the famous journalist and author, TJS George, an earlier guest on this show, Jeet gave me a copy of Names Of The Women. And it gave me the chills in a way that very few books have done before. It is a hauntingly evocative story of the lives of those women.

Despite being less than 200 pages long, Names Of The Women is aching to be a book three times its length. The substance is such. And when you pack all that into 200 pages, it makes it powerful.

Thayil’s writing is a masterclass in narrative storytelling, rich with literary devices that enhance his already compelling craft.

So much for what I think about the book. Let’s talk to Jeet.

Jeet Thayil is the author of four novels and five collections of poetry. His essays,
poetry and short fiction have appeared in the New York Review of Books,
Granta, TLS, The London Magazine, The Guardian and The Paris Review,
among other venues. He is the editor of The Penguin Book of Indian Poets.

Buy Names of the Women:
Buy The Penguin Book Of Indian Poets:

Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "What's That Word?!",  where they discuss the not-so-fun origins of the word, "FUN".

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