Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Book alert!

Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales (Aleph 2023) is just out. This is a new edition of Known Turf (2010), with a fresh Introduction chapter and a lot of footnotes that update the book's information with newer data, which lend it fresh context. 

This book of essays was nominated for the Crossword book prize in the non-fiction category when it first came out, and had a bunch of mostly good reviews when it first came out. It attempts to tell the story of our country in our times, with brief dips and detours into banditry, caste crimes, gender violence, displacement, hunger and malnourishment, faith and identity. All of these are, as I have learnt over the years, interlinked processes. I urge you to buy and read the book. 

Review links from 2010: 

"Annie Zaidi’s collection of essays, Known Turf, is arresting and unforgettable; about realities we prefer didn’t exist. Starvation deaths, female infanticide and communal intolerance step out of the anonymity of statistics to become people like us. They remind us of our defence mechanisms in the face of horror and sorrow; our efforts to stay sane and functional" - Karthika Nair in Tehelka

"Known Turf is a wonderfully engaging example of a puzzling trend in contemporary Indian writing in English. Despite the hype surrounding the novels-with-large-advances, the best writing today is happening in non-fiction." Alok Rai in Outlook

"Tragic and tender and brutal and funny." Known Turf covers a lot of turf.

"At its best, the book combines a reporter’s on-the-spot perception and a writer’s reflection and language to etch interesting, nuanced portraits of that half-mythical being in the throes of constant change: contemporary India. Known Turf is definitely worth reading, and not just for the sake of Gabbar Singh." Tabish Khair in Mint

"...anyone who has braved the railways without a confirmed reservation will get cathartic pleasure reading Zaidi’s graphic account of sitting on the corner of a seat, at a 45 degrees angle, with an RAC (Reservation against cancellation) ticket in a train to Lucknow" Alpana Chowdhury in DNA

"A book like this, written by someone who may once have been just as sheltered as they were, will resonate with Generation iPad in a way that a more world-weary account would bypass entirely." Manjula Padmanabhan in Outlook Traveller

"It’s a rare look into the lives of dacoits minus caricature.  Zaidi’s writing attempts to evoke an understanding of their reality.The Reporter and her Beat in Civil Society

"Among all the issues that Zaidi touches on, I find molestation to be the most moving. Though she puts in a lot of information on the other subjects she chooses, the whole force of her personality comes into play only when she starts speaking of molestation and eve teasing." From here

More reviews hereherehereherehere, and here.


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