Annie Zaidi speaks of her experiences as a journalist in North India, and I say ‘speaks’ with a reason. This book talks to you. It takes you by the hand and leads you through a quest to investigate why this country does what it does and why it is what it is – it asks questions. Annie Zaidi may not have all the answers, but instead, she gives you perspectives. Woven in with the narrative are childhood memories, statistics, musings on family, conversations, overheard snippets. The stories do not preach or throw around heavyweight statistics, instead they give you glimpses into the lives of people in non-urban India, it lets them speak for themselves. The collection is speckled with sketches of people, snippets of conversations, reactions, impressions – drawn equally with skill and sympathy.
The most striking thing about this book is its honesty. More often than not, the collection feels like someone wondering aloud, wrestling with questions, trying to understand the crazy, shifting political and social landscape of this country. There is no pretentiousness or over-simplification here – the questions she asks herself range from sheepish musings about whether the dacoits she is going to meet will resemble the dacoits from Hindi movies to soul searching questions about identity, guilt and gender.
Sandwiched between the struggle to understand starvation, banditry, religion, poverty, caste and communal tension, and violence against women, are smaller sketches, about tea and train rides. Annie Zaidi never quite manages to loose her sense of humour, and these instances of lightness, hilarious conversations, examples of random kindnesses, somehow balances out the brutality, leaving you with the feeling that maybe, everything is not as bad as it seems.
Annie Zaidi’s greatest skill is to somehow take a journalist’s understanding of detail and fact, and blend it with an understanding of people. Combine this with a fine sense of humour, a writers’ imagination, and you have something brilliant – a book that not only leads you through some of India’s most complex issues, but also makes you question at every step why people do what they do.
A Brief About The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards:
Exclusively Indian, inclusive in every other sense, the Vodafone Crossword Book
Award brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers & publishers – like no other awards.
These are your awards – join us in celebrating Indian writing.
The Vodafone Crossword Book Award is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in India that not only recognizes and rewards the best of Indian writing but also actively promotes the authors and their books.
The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards are given out in the following categories:
1. Vodafone Crossword Fiction Award.
2. Vodafone Crossword Non-Fiction Award.
3. Vodafone Crossword Translation Award.
4. Vodafone Crossword Children’s Award.
5. Vodafone Crossword Popular Award.
Click here to know more about the awards.