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Thursday, Sep 23, 2021
Outlook.com

Light, Grave

A wonderfully engaging example of the fact that despite the hype surrounding the novels-with-large-advances, the best writing today is happening in non-fiction

Light, Grave
Light, Grave
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Annie Zaidi’s 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. Of course, fiction presents certain unique problems—and, after Rushdie, mainly addresses them by horsing around in different registers. Entertaining enough, I suppose—but the gravity, let alone tragedy, of human existence apparently lies beyond its clownish scope.

Non-fiction, on the other hand, is inevitably subject to the discipline of reality and—in India, alas—gravity and tragedy are inescapable. But Annie Zaidi brings to her representation of these grim matters a quality that can only be called grace, a delicacy of touch that I hesitate to call feminine. Of course, that fact of her being a woman in India is a large part of her experience of the place, and contributes to both the anger and the humour in her writing. But the subtlest effect of this might be...

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