Priya Basil

In Us and Now - Becoming Feminist

(German title: Im Wir und Jetzt)
ca. 120 pages
Priya Basil
Foto: Priya Basil
© Suhrkamp Verlag

Priya Basil was born in London to parents with Indian roots. Her family moved to East Africa when she was a year old; she grew up in Kenya, and later studied and attended university in the UK. In 2002 she moved to Berlin, where she still lives. Her works have been nominated for numerous prizes, among them the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award. She regularly writes for Lettre International and various daily newspapers. Basil is the co-founder of Authors for Peace. Her book Be My Guest was an international success.

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Italy (Saggiatore)

»What is feminist? It confronts me more and more often, this question. I accumulate definitions, work out different interpretations, linger at various intersections. But the question persists: what is feminist? I switch between positions, stumble through contradictions, cling to my fictions. What is feminist? I have a hundred answers or none, because I cannot hold to only one.«


This book is a search. For a position, a community, a perspective. Led by the memories of what she experienced as the daughter of a patriarchal Indian family, Priya Basil describes the oppression of women, as well as their incredible resourcefulness, and discusses the questions that need to be answered on the way to justice and equality. In Us and Now is at once a self-discovery of elegant beauty and brilliant analysis.

Priya Basil grows up in Nairobi as the daughter of Indian immigrants. There, as in much of the world, a conservative, patriarchal value system determines what to do and what not. Women find different ways of arranging themselves. Priya’s grandmother is loud, flamboyant, assertive, while her daughter, Priya’s mother, is quiet, obedient, accommodating. Priya herself is sent to study at the best schools in England. She begins to search for another way, moves to Berlin, takes on the role of author and human rights activist, eschews motherhood and seeks new forms of kinship, of belonging. Yet, she finds, whatever you do, it's hard to slip the heavy heritage of gender expectations and her questions are getting louder: what can be done against misogyny and the deeply entrenched devaluation of women in our language, economy, history and society? With the help of many disciplines, with the help of many allies, Priya Basil formulates an answer: Becoming Feminist, In Us and Now.


»A British, Kenyan, Indian author living in Germany, one of those contemporary authors whose life doesn’t fit between the covers of a book because it is just too incredible.« Wired