Reviews of Manjula's work.
“A self-proclaimed feminist and one who is committed to being truthful as well as not inflicting hurt, the narrator with admirable bravery, lays bare the cracks and fissures in her own philosophy and principles by revealing the many times she thought nothing of throwing another woman under the bus while in pursuit of passion, lying to get her way or shrugging aside the pain she is causing others.
Like the unforgiving lens that confronted her in the dietician’s clinic, Padmanabhan does a striptease to reveal her psyche, warts and all in its naked glory and it is impossible to look away.”
The New Indian Express
July 5, 2020
“What sets Manjula Padmanabhan apart from all of us is the effervescent accuracy of her storytelling. She can make a spoonful of soft-boiled egg “a mound of undercooked bird embryo” fascinating. She can analyse the quotidian entertainingly, illuminating it with wry wit and perceptiveness.”
September 18, 2000
“Manjula Padmanabhan’s Getting There, as it turns out, is this great literary secret. It’s been around for 20 years. But I didn’t know it existed until it was republished this year. Since then, I’ve learned that this gratifying book about a young woman adrift in the world is deeply loved by its few readers who are largely writers and editors themselves.
Its literary readership is not indicative of its universal appeal. I’ve been recommending it to all kinds of readers, especially now when we’re feeling unmoored while the pandemic rages. I read it as if in some kind of a trance. And when I was done in the middle of one night, I sat quietly for a long time stunned by its wisdom and how it articulated parts of my own incomprehensible feelings.”
November 11, 2020
“In whatever location or form or medium (and she works in many), Padmanabhan is essentially a storyteller. Sometimes, she speaks in pictures, at other times in newspaper columns and reports, and at still other times, she speaks in plays. The two volumes at hand amplify the latter voice, allowing us not only to appreciate her particular talents but also to remember the many ways in which stories can be told for the stage.”
August 1, 2020
These are articles about Manjula Padmanabhan.
“Manjula Padmanabhan is a picture of the stereotypical writer in popular imagination: solitary, self-contained, deeply self-aware, resolutely sticking to “nuance” even in this time of political binaries, and unconcerned about the market’s demands.
She enjoys, sometimes suffers, the obscurity of a quiet genius — “stubbornly,” she says.
Few people have read her work, fewer still have understood and appreciated it. For weeks before our scheduled phone call, as I found myself engrossed in her writing, I wondered whether the problem was that her work was too ahead of its time. Now, though, it seems like the world may be catching up to her.”
September 11, 2020
“I regret not having read Getting There when I was younger, especially when I would have been the same age as the protagonist. The book offers actual directions to getting there, almost like a recipe or a Google map, while also showing that at some point you have to free-fall, or, as Manjula describes it, get on the carousel ride without the option of getting off before its done.
In this interview, she looks back to writing the book and why it was important for her, and also talks about the people she met during her trip.”
August 16, 2020
“It requires no reiteration that the times that we are living in are unusual and has changed the world in many unforeseen ways. The global lockdown and its subsequent extensions have very subtly altered the ways in which we have been living our lives. It might be too early to comment on these changes but there is no denying that irrevocable alterations have occurred in the ways we perceive life. Never again probably we shall be completely uninhibited as we step out in the open. Job markets have gone through a sea change and those industries that had once been booming have taken a backseat, giving way to many newer kinds. Human lives have acquired a new meaning. Death and disease are no more a distant reality, as we are learning to live with it. Even now, after almost a year of the pandemic, uncertainty looms. But on the other hand, we also hear of the earth rejuvenating, various species of animals returning to their habitats slowly, clearer skies, healthier lifestyles, etc.”
February 14, 2021
These are articles by Manjula Padmanabhan.
“Sometimes in public parks, one sees little dogs being dragged along, their eyes bulging and desperate, all four limbs rigid with resistance, behind owners determined to take them for a walk. This, in essence, is what I feel like about being taken sightseeing. Usually the captor is my formidable elder sister Geeta. Usually the places she drags me to are of superlative cultural and aesthetic value, so it is only my unmatched perversity that makes me unwilling to go. Khajuraho, however, was one of the few places that I did wish to see.”
June 3, 2014
These are stories by Manjula Padmanabhan.
“The great bird, with its 20-foot wingspan and scarlet head, glides in languid spirals high in the dizzy blue sky. Far below, it can see the green streak of a narrow valley cradled between the toothy peaks of the Andes. On the green, a twitch of movement.
A tiny golden child. Running naked in the grass. Shining black hair streaming behind her.
A tasty snack? Not today.
For the child, Bella, the just-dawned day, the grass, the sweet air of the valley — each is a distinct pleasure. She is delighted to be above ground after the night’s sleep. She turns to see if her grandfather is following. “Quickly, Granpa!” she calls to him, “or the morning will be all used up!” Though she appears unclothed, in fact, she wears a sheath of fine golden wool that covers and protects her from the harsh winds that patrol the area.”
January 1, 2017