Indian authors muse over what will influence post-pandemic literary works

Author Annie Zaidi says literature will reflect what has been forced into the foreground

Annie Zaidi   | Photo Credit: R Ravindran

The exterior world directly impacts the inner landscape, and therefore the literature writers produce. Speaking for myself, my work – especially fiction and drama writing – has been shaped through research, being in unfamiliar locations, spending time with strangers. From meeting people who say things I don’t like or agree with, while witnessing the fullness of their humanity.

How we’ll write post the COVID-19 pandemic depends on how long it lasts, whether the lockdowns will continue intermittently and how strict the rules will be. Human beings tend to forget experiences that do not scar them. For the elite and the middle class, this is still an intermission and it has not yet changed them in fundamental ways. Despite the awful news around, they are waiting to return to life as they knew it, and will, I suspect, argue for familiar privileges to be restored, even at the cost of the environment and the health of the lower income majority. This schism in the individual and national soul, playing out as political and social choice, will be noticed and will be written about.

In Indian cities, taking walks or brief exercise outdoors has not been possible for most people. The power of the state, police and policymakers and even ‘office bearers’ in housing societies, has never been so intimately felt. The true meaning of wealth and of solidarity has never been so clear.

Literature will reflect what has been forced into the foreground – the fear of intimate social contact, of controlled and monitored sexual choices – and the chafing against self-interest that masquerades as benevolent protection.

Dystopian fiction might take a backseat. I hope it will. Perhaps some Utopian fiction will be written, now that we are thinking about how to live, and have the time to imagine what a decent human civilization looks like.

Annie Zaidi’s new book is Prelude to a Riot

(as told to Saraswathy Nagarajan)

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 2:54:32 PM |

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