Image credit: Teri Pengilley

BIO (Where one elapses to the third person)

MEENA KANDASAMY (b. 1984) has actively sought to combine her love for the written word with the struggle for social justice through poetry, translation, fiction and essays for the last fifteen years.
Her debut collection of poems, Touch (2006) was themed around caste and untouchability, and her second, Ms Militancy (2010) was an explosive, feminist retelling/reclaiming of Tamil and Hindu myths. Her critically acclaimed first (anti)novel, The Gypsy Goddess, (2014) smudged the line between powerful fiction and fearsome critique in narrating the 1968 massacre of forty-four landless untouchable men, women and children striking for higher wages in the village of Kilvenmani, Tanjore.
Her second novel, a work of auto-fiction, When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer As A Young Wife (2017) drew upon her own experience within an abusive marriage, to lift the veil on the silence that surrounds domestic violence and marital rape in modern India. It was selected as book of the year by The Guardian, The Observer, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times; and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 among others.
Her third novel, Exquisite Cadavers, a work of experimental fiction was published in November 2019.
She received a PEN Translates award for her translation of Salma's Manamiyangal (Women, Dreaming; forthcoming Titled Axis Press, Penguin-Randomhouse India, 2020). At present she is exploring her non-fiction writing through a Arts Council, Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) grant. She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics. Her work has appeared in eighteen languages. She lives in East London. 
Fellowships/ Residencies
  • International Writing Program, University of Iowa (USA), Aug-Dec 2009
  • UGC Visiting Fellow, School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India), March 2010 
  • British Council- Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow, University of Kent, Canterbury (UK), Jan - April 2011 
  • Visiting Fellow, University of Newcastle (UK), May 2011
  • UGC Visiting Fellow, School of English, University of Hyderabad (India), March 2012
  • Writer-in-Residence, International Writers' Workshop, Hong Kong Baptist University, Oct 2012
  • Institute of Advanced Studies, Visiting Fellow, University of Warwick (UK), May 2015
  • Writer-in-Residence, Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, May 2016
  • NYU Gallatin Global Faculty in Residence, New York University
  • Hope Street Writer-in-Residence, hosted by The White Review, and University of Liverpool (UK), May 2018 
  • City of Stories Writer-in-Residence, Spread the Word and Association of London Chief Librarians, 2018
Festival appearances (selected)
Cheltenham Literature Festival (2017, 2019) * Melbourne Writers Festival (2017) * Edinburgh International Book Festival (2019, 2017, 2014) * Festival of Ideas (Bristol, 2017) * Bare Lit Festival, London, 2017 * International Literature Festival Utrecht, 2016 * Poetry on the Road, Bremen, 2016 * Heidelberg Literatur Festival 2015  * Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2014 * Jaipur Literature Festival 2011/2015 * Goa Arts and Literary Festival 2012/ 2013 * Hindu Lit for Life Festival 2013 * Poetry Outloud (Hong Kong) 2012 * Solothurn Literatur Festival 2012 * Kovalam Literary Festival 2011 * Blue Metropolis Literature Festival 2011 * Ottawa Writers Festival 2011 * Poetry Africa Durban 2010 * City of Asylum Jazz Poetry Concert Pittsburgh 2009