Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gulab hooks reviewers

"Gulab is restrained, ephemeral, delicate. Her characters leave much unsaid; there are telling silences and crucial pauses. Her prose is sparse and minimalist. All of which suits the subject matter - the mysteries of the paranormal - perfectly."
- The Hindustan Times

"The story unfolds like a Bollywood movie of suspense and thrill from the 70s, urging the reader to keep at it, even though the ending doesn’t do much to dissipate the anxiety. The plot, rife with unexpected twists, is fitting for stage production or even a Bollywood script, and in the form of a novella, it provides the reader a perfect adrenalin rush."
 - The Kathmandu Post

"Annie Zaidi's Gulab is a near-perfect ghost story and one of the things it does so well is achieving this balance. It is perfectly paced and uses its ghost shrewdly and sparingly."
- The Sunday Guardian 

"Zaidi makes brilliant use of the sense of disorientation that comes from an unacknowledged sense of loss, coupled with an unfamiliar location, a strange language and self-assured strangers. Bit by bit, she tugs away at all that Nikunj knows—his memories of Saira, his belief that he’d gotten over her, his ideas of life, love, fidelity and death—till he stands naked, confronting only the reality of himself and his perceptions."
- Mint

"There is a whirlwind of conversations, heated exchanges, physical fights and helpless sobs as the tempo builds and the mystery deepens. It’s nothing sort of a roller coaster ride, smooth one minute, scary the other and in between pregnant with foreboding."

"It begins with a darkly comic, almost absurd response to the idea of courting the supernatural with its everyman ordinary hero. And it ends with a chilling and seductive struggle as Nikunj is drawn to the magnetism of a dead woman’s charms."
- The Asian Age

"There’s more fun watching a ghost movie than reading a scary book. But Annie Zaidi’s novel, Gulab, ticks all the right boxes for an entertaining read. To start with, the book is all of 184 pages, it is a love story, it has a ghost, it has intrigue and a twist in the tale."

"From the very beginning we know what to expect from the story, yet the simplicity with which the author has woven monologues and dialogues, built up suspense and created situations keeps you hooked.

What binds the narrative together is the 24-hour time-span within which the story takes many unexpected turns." 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In a new anthology

I have a new graphic short story in this great new anthology of feminist speculative fiction Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean. It is targeted at young adults, but can be enjoyed by all. 

My story was extracted in Scroll

The reviews for the book are great too! 

'A Cross-Continental Flight of Fancy', by Maegan Dobson Sippy at New Indian Express

'This Anthology of Short Stories Takes an 'Alternative' Approach to Women Empowerment' by Debesh Banerjee, at Indian Express

'Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Feminine Tales of Unity' by Nuvena Rajendran, at Deccan Chronicle

'An Anthology Dripping with Collaborative Alchemy', by Aditya Mani Jha at Sunday Guardian

'For the Girls Who Mess With Boundaries' by Kareena Gianani, at Mid-Day 

'It's a Woman's World' by Karan Bhardwaj, Daily Pioneer

Press Trust of India, at NDTV and at Economic Times

'High As the Sky, Deep As the Ocean' by Sravasti Datta, at The Hindu

'Book Review: Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean ' by Bijal Vachharajan, at LiveMint

Unsweetened greetings

What does it mean to "indulge" in a food culture that has made sugar and grease the norm?
Today, you can get a bar of cheap chocolate for ten rupees. You cannot buy any fruit (except bananas) for that price, nor a bajra roti, boiled peas, boiled potatos. Cookies, full of sugar, salt, fat, are available for less than that, as are deep-fried chips and colas, where the main ingredient is sugar. You can get salted butter cheaper than a litre of whole milk.
How has this happened to us, and what are we going to do about it?
Read on: http://www.dailyo.in/life/why-feasting-on-festival-sweets-is-no-longer-a-treat/story/1/1218.html

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Governance, Dear Santa, governance!

Dear Santa,
Compliments of the season. I don't usually write, but I've been a very good girl this year. Worked hard, met deadlines, paid taxes, filed returns. So I feel entitled to a few things. Besides, the Indian government seems to like you and Christmas a great deal. They're upping the celebration ante with this Good Governance Day thing, which is sort of providential. Good Governance is just the thing I wanted. So, please, get the Indian government to do the following:

Interview: Esther Freud

Mr Mac And Me, set in 1914, neatly blends fiction with history as it tells the story of a young boy with a twisted foot and a talent for drawing, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish artist and architect who did actually live in a seaside village during World War I. In fact, he stayed and drank at the pub that later became a house where Freud lived. It was this small fact that got her interested in his story, she says. “Someone told me many years ago, did you know Mackintosh came to this village a hundred years ago, and people were suspicious and they thought maybe he was a German spy? And I thought, wow, amazing story! But it had nothing to do with me. But when I discovered that he had stayed in the house I lived in, then I thought, hmm, maybe there is something in it for me.” 

Freud believes that most writers need an “in” into a story; for her, it is a personal connection with her material. “It doesn’t have to be autobiographical. But something that’s enough to make it feel like it’s my story. I didn’t feel like I could just go to Glasgow and start researching Mackintosh. I mean, why me? But when I think that the man who lived in my house designed the Glasgow School of Art, then I want to go and look at everything he did.” Eventually, she was so fascinated with the man and his work that she looked for a way to insert a mini biography of Mackintosh into the novel even though the story spans just about a year.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/PuSFK7SsQH6eURTQXepS3J/Esther-Freud-Its-always-personal.html?utm_source=copy

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What do you know,

We can be buried on land or at sea, or burnt, or left to the vultures. We can turn into dust and manure, or we can line the digestive tracts of some other species. Finally, we will return back into the elements, just as we were created from the elements through a series of magical – if scientifically explicable – processes of nature. We accept this, and still, the question remains. The “me” that was neither skeleton nor synapse, where does that go?
There was a time when I would have unequivocally said, “Nowhere!” 
The spirit is probably an electrical impulse. You may survive in the memory, or in the DNA, of the living. But no dead person has access to our living rooms, living habits, living bodies. If legs have decayed, on what does a spirit walk? If tongues and vocal chords have decayed, with what does the spirit speak? Dreams, failures, injustices, anger – all of it ceases. I was sure of this. 
Then, I was no longer so sure. 

This is from an essay I wrote about certain strange/inexplicable/paranormal experiences originally published in 'What The Jaguar Knows We Don’t Know': The Kindle Biannual (2014). Link: http://scroll.in/article/693137/If-you-don%E2%80%99t-believe-in-the-paranormal,-can-you-explain-these
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