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BOLD AND BRASSY
India Today|November 23, 2020
BOLD AND BRASSY
DEVAKI JAIN IS VIGILANT ABOUT SHOWING HOW FREEDOM IS FOUGHT FOR CONSTANTLY BUT IS ALSO CONTINGENT ON PRIVILEGE

THE BRASS NOTEBOOK

A Memoir

by Devaki Jain SPEAKING TIGER

599; 220 pages

In her landmark 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing explored what it meant to be a ‘free woman’, while acknowledging the irony built in to the phrase. ‘Free women’, says the protagonist ‘wryly’ and with anger—‘They still define us in terms of relationships with men, even the best of them.’ Economist and activist Devaki Jain acknowledges both the inspiration and the irony in her recent memoir, The Brass Notebook. In a meeting with Lessing in 1958, the writer instructed her to ‘write your story now’. Decades later, Jain, now 87, chose brass as “the receptacle for my story”, “a hardier, homelier metal than gold. It represents not perfection or unity, but an honourable imperfection consistent with my own limits”.

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November 23, 2020