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Female Anger a Thing of Beauty, says Author Shinie Antony

You have managed the enviable feat of releasing two novels back-to-back, especially since AI has prompted many writers to throw in the towel. How did you pull this off?

It was emotional crafting vs thinking up. With Lilith, I had ready-made texts to refer from: Gilgamesh to Talmud, Ben Sira, Genesis 1, Hebrew Bible, George MacDonald… Lilith told her own story, I was like a stenographer taking it down. With Can’t, I was on my own. I thought both Nena and Tata up, what they wore, what they spoke, their quirks, eccentricities, back stories. Writing Can’t was a more complex and conscious process.

Can’t features a woman in her 70s traipsing off into the unknown with a 17-year-old, on a quest to track down her husband’s illicit bedmates. What is it about straying spouses and incompetent lovers that unleashes the rabid beast within?

Gender equations are lopsided. We are all going by that one old sepia portrait of womanhood hanging on a peeling wall in a mouldy haveli somewhere. In The Girl Who Couldn’t Love (Antony’s 2017 novel), Rudrakshi looks on from the other side. She will dump a man before he dumps her.

In your subversive take on Lilith, the original witch and ‘something which rhymes with it’ from the Bible, lasciviousness is rendered luscious while depravity is downright delicious. What drew you to Lilith, reimagining her as an indomitable force of nature, who refused to surrender, not even in pain of spiritual death and worse?

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