Annie Zaidi, is the Nine Dots Fellow 2019-20 as the winner of the Nine Dots Prize 2019/2020. Annie will be at CRASSH in Michaelmas Term 2019.
Anna Zaidi’s entry for the prize, ‘Bread, Cement, Cactus’, combines memoir and reportage to explore concepts of home and belonging rooted in her experience of contemporary life in India, where migration – within the country, especially from villages to cities – is high. The proposed book will answer the central question through examining how a citizen’s sense of ‘home’ might collapse, or be recovered. Themes it will address include:
- The politics and economics of death in India, and how the physical performance of last rites for the dead can lead to a sense of dislocation and the unmooring of living citizens
- How industrial townships are created on the back of a series of dislocations, and what this means for citizens’ relationships to the land
- The crossing of caste and religious lines in marriage, and the abuse of political power to violently disrupt or prevent the mixing of bloodlines
- The Partition of India as a great cultural and emotional sundering, ultimately triggering an aggressive nationalism that seeks a negative self-definition rather than a positive one
- The struggle to belong to a city when it changes in all recognisable forms, even down to its name, and when it is stripped of all the original springs of cultural affinity
Zaidi began her career as a reporter with stints at leading newspapers and magazines including Mid-Day and Frontline. She has published both fiction and non-fiction: Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales is a collection of essays shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award in 2010, and Love Stories # 1 to 14 is a collection of short fiction published in 2012. In 2015, she published an anthology called Unbound: 2,000 Years of Indian Women’s Writing. Elle magazine named Zaidi as one of the emerging South Asian writers ‘whose writing… will enrich South Asian literature’. She currently works as a freelance writer, working on fiction, scripts and columns for magazines and newspapers.