28 May 2020 All day Occasion


We are marking the occasion of the publication of Nine Dots Prize winner Annie Zaidi’s book ‘Bread Cement Cactus‘. Due to the COVID-19 situation, no actual event is possible, but we are sharing here some material to celebrate the launch.

An e-book will be available as well as the printed book, from Cambridge Core from 28 May 2020.


Annie Zaidi, a freelance writer whose work includes reportage, essays, short stories, poetry and plays.

Zaidi’s entry, ‘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.

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.

Zaidi says: “What really appealed to me about the Nine Dots Prize was the way it encourages entrants to think without borders or restraints. My work has often crossed over genres, traversing between memoir and journalism, and this timely but wide-open question encouraged us to approach it with methods that were equally far-ranging. I had been working towards a similarly themed project for a while but didn’t have the financial, or even mental, bandwidth to do it justice. The Prize will allow me to dedicate time to the examination of this question, which is of critical importance in the modern world – and it will help fund the necessary research trips, which, as a freelancer, is something I appreciate hugely. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and am looking forward to the challenges and excitement of the year ahead.”


The Nine Dots Prize, a new biennial prize, was launched on 21 October 2016, offering US$100,000 and a book deal with Cambridge University Press. The Prize is designed to promote and encourage innovative thinking to address problems facing the modern world. Its name references a lateral thinking puzzle that can only be solved by drawing outside of a box of nine dots arranged in three rows of three. The Prize is judged anonymously by a 12-strong Board of internationally recognised and distinguished academics, authors, journalists and thinkers. The Board is chaired by Professor Simon Goldhill, former director of CRASSH, Professor in Greek Literature and Culture and Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.



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