Shashi Deshpande is an Indian novelist.
Shashi Deshpande is a popular writer in India. She was born on 19 august 1938 in Dharwad district in Karnataka. Shashi has been a recipient of the highly coveted Padma Shri award. She was also a member of the Sahitya Akademy. She was born to famous parents. She published her work of short stories in 1978 and her first novel in 1980 ‘The Dark Holds No Terror’. She was educated in Mumbai and Banglore. She did her education in law and economics. She further studied journalism at Vidya Bhawan and worked as a journalist for a short period of time with a popular magazine ‘Onlooker’. Got a degree in arts on top of that.
Shashi belonged to an upper-middle-class family and was married into alike. She remembers the intellectual environment, at home, created by her father, the great novelist, dramatist, director; Sriranga. Her father affectionately called her ‘nirupayogi’ and her sister ‘Jaane’.
Parents & Siblings
Shashi was born to the famous dramatist and writer, Adya Rangacharya and Sharada Adya. Her father was popularly known by his pen name Sriranga. She has two siblings a brother and a sister; Usha Desai. Her relationship with her mother wasn’t particularly a perfect one, she mentions in her book Listen to Me. She also talks of how her brother’s health issues took a toll on the family.
Husband & Children
She is married to Dr Dhirender H. Deshpande and had 2 sons. She describes her husband as the most supportive and nurturing just like her own father. She lost her son Raghu at a young age in 2017. Their other son Vikram lives in the US. Talking of the revelation of her personal life issues she mentions the wound of losing her son, which is in fact still fresh and causes her utmost pain and grief.
Shashi Deshpande the award-winning writer began her writing career at 30. After she was married and had two children, then she started writing professionally. Prior to this, she says she just couldn’t be a house maker alone, the frustration she had was channelled in her writing. A lot of her writings are considered women’s writings or feminist writings. She has always had strong opinions about her writings and also her writings are viewed. She says, she like the easy most conveniently understood language, to be used in her works. Flamboyancy in language doesn’t seem to impress her. She also there aren’t many writers who get away with something like that, making an exception for Arundhati Roy. Her book, The Dark Holds no Terrors was turned into a movie, in 1997, by the first female director, Prema Karanth. In 2017 HarperCollins optioned rights to the movie based on Strangers to Ourselves, directed by Hasal Mehta. She faced quite a bias being an English writer as people often had preconceived notions like her being rich. Another thing she disliked the most was the categorisation of her works only being meant for women, she said the fact men came up to her getting books signed specifically for the females in their lives, seemed rather odd to her. She also feels the fact her first book was published by a foreign publisher had a massive role in how well it did, often the publisher from abroad was an influencing factor in the books’ performance. Her very first reader always is her husband and the most obnoxious critics are the ones who bring in personal and put in malice in the review, based on that.
- Deshpande was in the news when she resigned from the highly revered Sahitya Akademi, over the murder of Prof. MM Kalburgi, whom she describes as an honest man and a scholar, who was also a member of the Sahitya Akademi’s general council. She penned down a resignation, following precious little being done by the Akademi. She was seen expressing her disappointment over not being able to take a stand in unison, for the professor, calling him one 0of themselves. She had expressed disappointment in the government and disagreed upon being questioned if she wanted Sahitya Akademi to be an activist body. Deshpande further said, her only concern was for writers to be assured freedom of speech since Mr Kalburgi bore the brunt of this very cause. She doesn’t twist words and puts it straight that the government rose to power with the help of the Hindutva forces and speaking up against them would simply not benefit them and hence the silence.
Sadly, it has become increasingly important to reaffirm that difference of opinion cannot be ended with a bullet; that discussion and debate are the only way a civilised society resolves issues. It has also become clear that writers, who are supposed to be the conscience-keepers of society, are no longer considered intellectual leaders; their voices no longer matter.” Noting that perhaps it is the “right time for writers to reclaim their voices
- She expressed her opinion during the Citizenship bill Amendment and how the government had met resistance with violence.
Right now, the situation is fluid, and things are uncertain. There is no whisper of a conciliatory gesture. The government believes that this resistance must be met by brute force, and the belief is that if you are not with us, you are the enemy.
Feminism according to Deshpande came from the consciousness of the unfair ways women were treated. She says her writing, to a large extent, was ignited by the thought of what is to be a woman in our society. She talks of women and their issues in daily life. Her writing though address issues that are left unsaid in society, like marital rape, unfair treatment, rape culture and the shame attached to it.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- She won the Sahitya Akademi award for her novel “That Long Silence” in 1990.
- Deshpande’s novel the Shadow Play was shortlisted for Hindu Literary Prize in 2014.
- She has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2009.
- She always spoke in Marathi with her kids, as her mother always did the same.
- Jane Austen is one of her favourite authors.
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