Most books that we come across are centered around a male character and reveal the incidents from their perspective alone. However, there also exist many books that take a ‘male-dominated’ character as a point of instance and unspools the world around him from a female perspective. Several authors have done it, here are some of those instances:
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
In her reimagining of Odyssey by Homer, Margaret details what Penelope must have gone through to keep the suitors at bay, but more specifically draws her up as a flesh and blood person acknowledging her effort and selfhood. It is a wildly entertaining book, befitting of an Atwood narration, but most importantly a timely course correction.
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
In mythology, stories are spun around women but never really read from their perspective. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni changed it with The Palace of Illusions. It was a reimagining of Mahabharata from the perspective of Panchaali, wife of the Pandavas. Informed by her perspective, the familiar tale is defamilarised. You can check out my review of the book here.
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
Tóibín in this 2013 book, goes back to the ancient man in the history – Jesus, but tells the known story from his mother’s perspective. The Testament of Mary is a provocative, compelling novella about Mary as he paints her picture with vivid details. Mary here is an old woman staying alone after her son has been crucified. She does not agree with the narrative that her son is the child of God, neither does she consider his death to be a much-needed sacrifice. She reprimands herself for not being able to save Jesus and tries to comprehend the events which will eventually form the narrative of the New Testament.
Maaza Mengiste sets her novel against Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia and for a change turns the gaze to focus on the women who went to war. By tracing a story hitherto untold and freeing the past from the narrative crutches of victors, she in a way rewrites history.
The Liberation of Sita by Volga
Volga in his book charts Sita’s journey after being abandoned. While her husband considers his role as the king of Ayodhya and is tormented by the absence of his wife, Sita walks the path to self realisation aided by other female characters like Surpanakha, Urmila, Renuka and Ahalya.