Reclaiming the literary space that was historically exclusive to them, Dalit writers of all languages and over the decades have provided a startling glimpse into the reality of being ‘Dalit’ in India, a society where the hierarchical and hierarchical caste system and discriminatory continues.
Before Dalit writer-activists raised their voices and used their pens to elucidate their experiences in a country riddled with castes, this narrative was populated by upper caste writers writing stories on behalf of the subordinates. Their privileged myopia prevented them from going beyond the stereotypical representations of the Dalit community in their works. These weren’t their stories to tell anyway.
Incredibly real and genuinely educational words flow into the works of the Dalit authors who have richly shaped Indian literature. Community writers, for example, make an impression by living as intersectional figures in a two-stage patriarchal socio-political system that has tried to keep them marginalized both for their gender and their caste.
For readers in search of the truth overshadowed by mainstream upper-caste narratives, literature written by Dalit writers is the pool to dive into. Here are some names you can’t miss.
1. BR Ambedkar
Dr Ambedkar is essential reading for those seeking an overview of the social reformer ideals that shaped Dalit resistance in India. Key to the drafting of the Constitution and the main voice against caste discrimination in Hindu society, Babasaheb, as he is reverently called, is the author of many works essential to Dalit literature. The annihilation of castes, Castes in India: their mechanism, genesis and development and Who were the Shudras? are important texts to get you started.
2. Babytai Kamble
One of the leading Dalit feminist writers, Babytai Kamble is known for recounting the intersectional existence that she and others like her have experienced. Kamble set a distinctive tone for the narrative about Dalit women, which was previously either deviated or barely covered by the writings of the upper castes. His Marathi autobiography Jina amucha translated into english as The prisons that we broke is considered an essential look at the exploitation of castes in the 20th century.
Bama Faustina Soosairaj, known as Bama, has devoted most of her life to teaching and writing about the experiences of Dalit women, especially those who subscribe to Christianity. A fervent defender of women’s rights and independence, Bama expresses her activism for social causes through her works, underlining in the process the force of femininity towards equality. His autobiography Karukku, novel Sangati, and short stories in Kusumbukkaran are some of his best titles.
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4. Urmila Pawar
Urmila Pawar is a prominent Dalit feminist whose imprint on Marathi literature is unprecedented, especially when viewed in relation to her expert commentary which stands at the crossroads of caste and gender identity. We also made history, the book she wrote with Meenakshi Moon is considered groundbreaking in the way it shifts the historical narrative from a traditional patriarchal narrative to a Dalit feminist lens. His autobiography Aidan has been translated from Marathi to English as The Weaving of My Life: Memories of a Dalit Woman.
5. Om Prakash Valmiki
Author of the founding work Joothan, his autobiography, Om Prakash Valmiki, stands out for its pronounced impact on Dalit literature. He was an important literary figure in reporting Dalit experiences in the Hindi space, something that had remained largely unexplored before he opened the doors wide. Well-known news from him is collected in Salam and Ghuspethiye, while his remarkable collections of poetry include Sadiyon Ka Santaap and Ab Aur Nahin.
6. Shantabai Kamble
Shantabai Kamble rose through thick and thin from her childhood, mired in exploitative experiences drawn from her caste identity, to become the first published Dalit female autobiographer. A teacher and activist for most of her life, Kamble was greatly inspired by Ambedkar’s resistance against caste. his memories Majya Jalmachi Chittarkatha, originally written in Marathi, has been translated into The story of the kaleidoscope of my life.
7. Kumud Pawde
Illustrious presence in the field of dialogue on Dalit feminism, Dr Kumud Pawde is notably the first Ambedkarite scholar of Sanskrit and founding member of the National Federation of Dalit Women, an NGO committed to the rights of Dalit women founded by activist Ruth Manorama. His scholarship in Sanskrit is a marked claim of caste rights, given that ownership of the ancient language has long been held by Brahmanism. Antahsphot is his autobiography.
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8. Anita Bharti
Anita Bharti is another key Dalit voice in the Hindi literary realm, commenting on intersectional feminism and its position in relation to contemporary mainstream feminism. She is notable in her role in the importance of Dalit feminist conversation in the Hindi language through works such as Yathastithi se Takraate Hue Dalit Stree Jeewan se Judi Kavitaayein and Dalit Stree ka Pratirodh which have value as written intellectual protests against caste discrimination.
9. Baburao Bagul
Another authoritative voice in Dalit literature written in Marathi, Baburao Bagul is considered to be a major 20th century influence on the form of Indian short story. He was a radical thinker and his work mainly focused on expressing the plight of those marginalized by the upper castes. savarne company. Bagul wrote several groundbreaking titles, including an autobiography titled Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (translated into English by When I hid my caste) and collection of news Maran Swasta Hot Ahe (translation : Death becomes cheaper).
10. Meena Kandasamy
Meena Kandasamy’s writings, with a particular emphasis on poetry, have an impact on the new-age audience, especially for young people connected to social media. She has been at the forefront of translating the works of Dalit authors into English, accessible to more readers. The dominant themes in her poetry relate primarily to caste identity and oppression against the context of being a woman. Novels When i hit you and Exquisite corpses are among his most famous titles.
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11. Gogu Shyamala
Gogu Shyamala, a Telugu writer, has had a profound influence on the political-religious conversation that surrounds the caste. A powerful and Dalit feminist thought, she notably questioned the dynamics of the left in India which, according to her, is not exempt from caste privileges. She also spoke out on gender-based violence against Dalit women. Much of what Shyamala writes is based on personal experiences and The father can be an elephant and the mother only a small basket, but … is one of his best-known literary titles.
12. Yashica Dutt
Writer and journalist, Yashica Dutt is an active voice that highlights casteism and opposes it on social networks. The range of her writings delves into her experiences as a Dalit woman in the 21st century, interwoven with powerful critiques of India’s still flourishing caste system. his memories Come out as Dalit talks about the arduous journey she took to come to terms with her identity and the events in her life that shaped her reality.
Pictured: Bama, Baby Kamble, BR Ambedkar