In this episode, Main Bhi Muslim’s producer and host, Mariyam Haider, speaks with journalist, playwright and award-winning author, Annie Zaidi. Annie has written several books including: City of Incident; Prelude to a Riot; and Bread, Cement, Cactus: A Memoir of Belonging and Dislocation. She is also the editor of Unbound: 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing.
In this episode, we discuss Bread, Cement, Cactus which is her journey to answering questions around her identity and belonging to her home country, the name she carries and the life she has lived. She investigates the vestiges of memories that have shaped her life in India, the homes she’s lived in, her relationships with certain family members, friends and those she interacted with and observed over the course of living with this question. She makes acute observations about how the Indian state influences who belongs where depending on their status and location in the society. Chapter by chapter, Annie invokes the idea of belonging, displacement, migration and movement not just for herself, but millions of Indians, especially those on the margins or living as minorities.
Bread, Cement, Cactus is a formidable read and asks deeper questions with eloquence, leading to some answers for the readers themselves.
Selected books written by Annie Zaidi
More about Annie Zaidi (republished with permission by the author):
Annie’s other published works include the novella Gulab; a collection of short stories Love Stories # 1 to 14; and a collection of essays Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales. She is the co-author of The Good Indian Girl (with Smriti Ravindra) and a short book of illustrated poems Crush (with Gynelle Alves).
Annie received the Tata Literature Live Award for fiction (2020) for Prelude to a Riot, which was also shortlisted for the JCB prize the same year, and the Nine Dots Prize (2019) for her essay Bread, Cement, Cactus. She won The Hindu Playwright Award (2018) for her script Untitled 1 and her radio script ‘Jam’ was named regional (South Asia) winner for the BBC’s International Playwriting Competition (2011). Her work has appeared in several anthologies and literary journals including The Griffith Review, The Aleph Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Charles River Journal, The Missing Slate and Out of Print. She has also written and directed several short films and the documentary film, In her words: The journey of Indian women.
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