When Madeline Miller published Circe, it heralded the start of a new wave of feminist retellings, in which writers revisited well-known classics in order to tell the stories of those excluded from the dominant narrative. Now the popularity of mythological retellings is at an all-time high and bookshops are flooded with tales of heroic women reclaiming their stories.

But these stories are still so very white, so very western. Publishing is ever-ravenous for Greek myths, despite so little of it being written by actual Greeks. Are we falling into the same trap yet again? Where are the non-western myths? Where are the authors of colour? When reimagined myth is at its most popular, why are we still reading predominantly about Greece?

Joining us for this episode is Vaishnavi Patel, whose retelling of the Ramayana centres the myth’s “evil” stepmother, Kaikeyi, instead of its traditional hero, Rama. 

Mentioned in this episode:

  • The Ramayana and Mahabharata
  • The Iliad, Odyssey and Atalanta
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Beowulf
  • Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
  • Bridgerton (Netflix, authored by Julia Quinn)

Vaishnavi Patel is a law student focusing on constitutional law and civil rights. She likes to write at the intersection of Indian myth, feminism, and anti-colonialism. Her short stories can be found in The Dark and 87 Bedford’s Historical Fantasy Anthology along with a forthcoming story in Helios Quarterly. She was also a Pitch Wars class of 2019 mentee.

Vaishnavi grew up in and around Chicago, and in her spare time, enjoys activities that are almost stereotypically Midwestern: knitting, ice skating, drinking hot chocolate, and making hotdish.