Book Watch: Annie Zaidi shares her favourite reads on human history

Annie Zaidi’s collection of essays, Known Turf, was short-listed for the Vodafone Crossword Book Award in 2010. She also writes poetry (Crush, 2007), short stories (The Good Indian Girl, 2011), plays, and has published a novella. She won The Hindu Playwright Award in 2018 and the Nine Dots Prize in 2019 for her work Bread, Cement, Cactus.

23 Mar 2021 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

Annie Zaidi

Dissent by Romila Thapar: As Romila Thapar explores in this timely historical essay, dissent has a long history in the subcontinent, even if its forms have evolved through the centuries. Thapar looks at the articulation of dissent which is so essential to all societies, and relates it to various moments of time and in varying contexts.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story, where the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his father.

Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht: Written in 1938, and published in 1940, the action of the play follows the career of the great Italian natural philosopher Galileo Galilei and the Galileo affair. The play embraces such themes as the conflict between dogmatism and scientific evidence, as well as interrogating the values of constancy in the face of oppression.

Women and Power: A manifesto by Mary Beard: Britain’s best-known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. With wry wit, she revisits the gender agenda and shows how history has treated powerful women. Her examples range from the classical world to the modern day, from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Hillary Clinton.

Early Indians by Tony Joseph: To tell us the story of our ancestry, journalist Tony Joseph goes 65,000 years into the past – when a band of modern humans, or Homo sapiens, first made their way from Africa into the Indian subcontinent. As Joseph unravels our history using the results of genetics, he takes head-on some of the most controversial questions of Indian history.