Kamala Das

Kamala Das poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist and memoirist, Kamala Das, alias Madhavikutty, was born in 1934 into a literary family. Her father, VM Nair was the former Managing Editor of the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi; her mother, Nalapatt Balamani Amma, was a well-known Malayalam poet and her great-uncle, Nalapatt Narayana Menon, was a writer and translator. Schooled mainly at home, she was a voracious reader, and spent her childhood between Punnayurkulam, her ancestral village in Kerala, and Calcutta (now Kolkata). Married at the age of 15 to Madhava Das, she started writing while still in her teens. She wrote short stories and poems, six novels and three memoirs, in which she explored a woman’s quest for freedom from sexual and domestic oppression, and examined the paradoxes of life and relationships with great emotional depth. She is best known for her controversial and provocative autobiography My Story. In 1999, she converted to Islam and assumed the name of Kamala Suraiya. In her later years, she wrote a syndicated newspaper column on a wide range of topics, including religion and politics. Kamala Das passed away in May 2009.