Bread, Cement, Cactus: A memoir of belonging and dislocation

“What belongs to whom?” she asks. “Who pays the costs of what is taken and cannot be returned?” These are questions perhaps more powerful than the answers Zaidi can provide, but it’s through questions such as these that she points towards the deeper mysteries of our human condition."
The Guardian 

"This inward gaze is missing from a lot of political analysis about the current state of the country, and that is why this book stands out for its sincerity. It is not a rant; it is sensitive and sophisticated."
- The Hindustan Times

"So, this safe place called home, does it exist? For her, a home is where she wants to return to, the heart being a compass. Sometimes, she thinks of home as morning mist, wispy and beyond her grasp."
The Hindu

"In prose that is admirably both poetic and compact, Zaidi creates in Bread, Cement, Cactus both a memoir of her own multiple belongings as well as a tract that sets out India’s various modalities of displacement."

"Zaidi shines a light on the horror of what an androcentric society is, yet reiterates the concept of dislocation not only to emphasize the pain women go through but the healing and belonging they could find when following their own path."

Prelude to a Riot

"Zaidi’s emotionally intelligent novel is remarkable in the complexity it manages to convey"
 - Urvashi Bahuguna in Open magazine

"The slim novel captures the anger and anxiety of our times...Prelude to a Riot has the depth of reportage and a deep understanding of the human condition"
- Saudamini Jain in Hindustan Times

"Prelude To A Riot is as much a novel about escalating communal tensions as about the insoluble differences between men and women when confronted with the prospect of murderous destruction"
 - Somak Ghoshal in The Mint

"Zaidi attacks entitlement from wherever it comes — be it from wealth, caste, religion, or from the mere fact that one was born and has lived one’s entire life in a particular place"
Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar in The Hindu

"Her skill lies in etching the attributes of each character with finesse, without ever forcing the reader to be judgmental."
S. Ravi in The Hindu BusinessLine


"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."

"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."
- Aditya Mani Jha in 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."
 - Sumana Mukherjee in the Mint

Love Stories # 1 to 14

"Tantalisingly subtitled and numbered 1 to 14, yet arranged haphazardly—like random numbers in a slot machine—these stories tell of the chanciness of love, the odds you may or may not bet on.... The tonic to your seasonal cheer" 

"So warm and attentive is the writing in Annie Zaidi's new short-story collection that it comes as a little shock when you think about what some of her characters are really going through. This book's tone is consistently hushed, reflective, shorn of hysteria — even in a description of two people arguing, with a lifetime of companionship on the line — but beneath its still surfaces there is much emotional turbulence."
Jai Arjun Singh in the Sunday Guardian.

"Zaidi rolls up her sleeves and digs in to the emotional core of her protagonists, with nary a nod to their externalities... There’s no excavation that the reader needs to perform to get to the emotional core of the characters, they’re stripped of flesh and laid bare for all to see. But in this book it works wonderfully, because Zaidi tells us such wonderful things... She has an eye for detail that would make a falcon blush... once she has you by those heartstrings, she rarely lets go."  

"Annie’s stories are not teen romances that are aspirational and otherworldly, but they open up small little worlds that are hidden to us and makes us wonder about the stories of people who we meet in our everyday life. Her stories are filled with real people." 
Reader review 1 on Good Reads.

"In the 14 stories, Zaidi explores every aspect of this ‘not so brief’ madness through situations that could belong to any part of the country. All the stories are characterized by a deep sense of compassion, though their titles – hashtags, aka and all – offset the compassion with a modern quirkiness." 
Women's Web


Review of 'Jaal' (Hindi). The play opened in Mumbai at Prithvi Theatre, as part of Writers' Bloc: 3, 2012. 

In Time Out magazine: "The atmosphere grows claustrophobic as playwright Annie Zaidi and director Faezeh Jalali expertly measure out the suspense in this whodunit, allowing the tension to rise with each telling detail."

A review of So Many Socks (English). The play opened in Mumbai at Prithvi Theatre, in September  2012.

Reviews of 'The Bad Boy's Guide to the Good Indian Girl (or The Good Indian Girl's Guide to Living Loving and Having Fun)'

"At quite a few instances, it felt like reading my own experiences on print, replete with all the thrill and anguish. It was heartening. Feminist, and subtly so. I’m not given to cliches like these, but I think I’ll risk it for this particular book – this is one book that’s gonna stay with me for the rest of my life" - The Pensieve

" is certainly a guidebook to the interlacing lives of a group of young girls and women, the Rashomon-like dappled truths they tell about their betrayal, longing, rebellion, temptation and that minefield hopscotch of right and wrong, good and bad, in matters of friendship, status, sex, desire and occasional aspiration that makes up the lives of many Indian girls." - Paromita Vohra in Tehelka

"The GIG is full of casual mischief, surreptitious acts and carefully kept secrets... Zaidi and Ravindra’s storytelling and commentaries suffer bouts of laboured poetry but by and large, there’s a lightness in their tone that ensures The Good Indian Girl reads engagingly" - Deepanjana Pal in Mumbai Boss Recommends.

"... a book of surprisingly subversive tales in which girls interact with men, climb down rope ladders (“BIG Girls”), flirt and draw back (“Strangers”), cut themselves (“Out of Here”), are nervous and afraid around men but simultaneously willing to play along (“Finger Play”) and manipulate their perceived goodness for their own ends (“Daddy’s Girls”). They are less about emphasizing the restrictions placed on Indian women than they are about how women use and test them" - Aishwarya Subramanian in Mint 

"... unlike the more annoying fractured narratives that found currency in Hollywood movies like Crash and Mexican ones like Amores Perros, these stories grow organically, branching out and reaching heights of joy or digging roots deep down to the darker side of being a young woman in India" - Saudha Kasim

"Good Indian Girls does provide important insights into why many Indian women do the things they do, sometimes even without knowing it." - Anjana Basu in Women's Web 

"If I were asked to name this book, I would have called it “Splendid Stories of Good Indian Girls, Which Can Be Enjoyed By All.” And man, what classy stories they are. Some of them are not more than two pages long and some run to ten pages or more. Each of them is about an Indian girl, mostly good, a few bad and many who are not so good, but manage to get away with it. Zaidi and Ravindra write in excellent unobtrusive prose which is akin to high quality corn flour used in good chicken soup. You don’t really get to taste the corn flour and don’t even think of it much as you gulp down the soup, but without the quality corn flour, the soup wouldn’t be half as enjoyable." - Blog review by Vinod Joseph 

More reviews: At Justfemme

About the Good Indian Girl in The Hindu, Bangalore MetroPlus.
Desperately Seeking Savitri in Mid-Day

Reviews for Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales:

"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

"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

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

"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 here, here, here, here, here, and here.
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