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Prelude to a Riot: A Novel

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

Prelude to a Riot: A Novel

In a peaceful southern town, amidst lush spice plantations, trouble is brewing.

Full Title: Prelude to a Riot: A Novel

Author: Annie Zaidi
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

In a peaceful southern town, amidst lush spice plantations, trouble is brewing. In the town live three generations of two families, one Hindu and the other Muslim, whose lives will be changed forever by the coming violence. At risk are Dada, the ageing grandfather who lovingly tends and talks to the plants on his estate; his strong-willed grandchildren, Abu and Fareeda; the newly married Devaki, who cannot fathom the forces that are turning her husband and her father into fanatics; Mariam, of the gifted hands, who kneads and pounds the fatigued muscles of tourists into submission; and Garuda, the high-school teacher who, in his own desperate way, is trying to impart the truth about the country’s history to a classroom of uninterested students. Quietly but surely, the spectre of religious intolerance is beginning to haunt the community in the guise of the Self-Respect Forum whose mission is to divide the town and destroy the delicate balance of respect and cooperation that has existed for hundreds of years. Told with brilliance, restraint and extraordinary power, Annie Zaidi’s book is destined to become a classic.

About the Author: 

Annie Zaidi is the author of Gulab, Love Stories # 1-14, and Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales which was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Prize (non-fiction). She is the editor of Unbound: 2,000 Years of Indian Women’s Writing. She won The Hindu Playwright Award in 2018 for her play Untitled 1, and the Nine Dots prize in 2019 for her essay ‘Bread, Cement, Cactus’.


A fearless novel that speaks incisively about the divided times we live in.
The Hindu

A sharp and succinct portrait of the country’s fractious present.
Mint Lounge

Prelude to a Riot is marked by a keen sense of observation, a remarkable sense of place and pulsates with lithe writing, informed in no small part by Zaidi’s strength as a poet.

Annie Zaidi’s Prelude to a Riot captures the anger and anxiety of our times.
Hindustan Times

Zaidi’s emotionally intelligent novel is remarkable in the complexity it manages to convey.

A story of our times, Annie Zaidi’s new novel takes us into a peaceful town where bigots are using history as ammo to fuel hate.

Prelude to a Riot: A cautionary tale for the times.
The Hindu Business Line

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