It is a false idea that anyone who can write a whole sentence correct grammatically, can write a book. It is an art which few can encompass and thus they should be appreciated. A few young Indian names have made modern Indian English writing or literature so much better. In the last few years, among the few names to jostle in our minds has been that of young journalist-turned writer Annie Zaidi, who probably interests us due to the varied kind of writing she does. As a journalist, one must have read her stories and bylines in newspapers like Mid-Day and DNA and various magazine like Frontline, Caravan, The Open, Marie Claire and Tehelka. She came into foray with Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales, a collection of essays which were followed by a short stories collections — Love Stories # 1 to 14, The Good Indian Girl (with Smriti Ravindra), while she has contributed to anthologies including Dharavi: The City Within, Mumbai Noir, First Proof: 2, India Shining and India Changing.
The moment you meet Annie, you realise that behind a beautiful face is a sharp and clear mind, whose views just easily translate into words. She was in the city a while back for the literary festival and spoke about the world of novels. On being asked of whether Indian writers have to struggle a lot more to be accepted, she felt that unlike others, there is always a suspicion about Indian writers. “A certain recognition has opened up the market and chances of publishing one’s works are higher. Now first time writer, regardless of the quality, gets published, but may not get sufficient recognition. You can’t tell if you have to stay on list. Visibly, book stores are struggling.” Blogs interest her but according to her, they are just not mainstream.
Each writer does prefer one style of writing and a genre. But Annie prefers to not get stuck with any particular tag. “It is different with each book. My second book was aimed to be sassy. I did not want to be preachy. I like to look at a situation and then think about it. I like to know people’s nature and their mind.”
She prefers not going back to any of her novels, but certain books by other writers do keep coming back to her. “I do return to certain books and recommending them, like 1984, Animal Farm and so on. Jane Austen never gets old. I really like Margaret Atwood. I just returned to her novel Cat’s Eye. Journalism can be good writing too.” though she has read a lot of books, no book from recent list is on her must-read list. “One of the books is Baby Kamble’s The Prisons We Broke. It is about her community and how they fought. It is remarkable historically speaking. These powerful stories need to be told. One does not have access to the Hindi literature from the 80s and 90s. I am reading Gagan Gill’s writing and have rediscovered her. The poetry of Kedarnath Singh, Kunwar Narain never gets old.”
With such influences, it is easy to see why she is such an interesting writer herself.