Anis Kidwai (1906-1982)

A site devoted to her writing and politics

Dust of the Caravan (2020/2021, Zubaan & NewText)

Dust of the Caravan is a selection of writings by Anis Kidwai sketching the personal and political journey of a Muslim woman through the first eight decades of the 20th century. In Kidwai’s often humorous and always incisive and compassionate telling of the travels that took her from a birth and upbringing in rural Awadh into the maelstrom of Partition and its aftermath, lies a rich tapestry of tales.

Simultaneously a social history of life in rural Awadh in the early 20th century and the birth of the national movement in the region as well as an account of the traditions of mutual respect and understanding between different faiths in a shared culture and the rupture of those very traditions during Partition, this book is also the story of a woman’s journey from the home into the world and from ‘family values’ towards autonomous beliefs, friendships, and activism. In addition to its value as a literary work, Dust of the Caravan is an important resource in the fields of history, sociology, and gender studies.

“An archivist’s delight, an emotional roller coaster, a challenge to settled opinions, a must read for everyone with a conscience who is thinking about the soul of India.“
Uma Chakravarti, Historian

Written in scintillating prose, rich in anecdotes, candid portraits, and everyday details, they open up for us the world at once intimate and expanding of the zenana..”
Francesca Orsini, SOAS University of London

“Ayesha Kidwai’s sensitive translation of her grandmother’s writing captures its multiple registers and unique expression to reveal a woman’s voice at once poignant, funny, piercing and poetic.”
Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, University of Sheffield

“Dust of the Caravan is a compelling story of knitting dreams of a just and equal India, a story of a struggle propelled only by hope, a story which, but for Ayesha Kidwai, would have remained inaccessible to a wider audience.”
Saif Mahmood, Writer, Translator, Lawyer

Click here to visit the book’s page on Zubaan Books

Read an extract from Dust here

On 30th October 2020, the Centre for Human Rights Studies, Jindal Global Law School, organised a discussion on Anis Kidwai’s Dust of the Caravan. You can watch it on Youtube here.


  1. Zakia Soman in Open The Magazine, Nov. 26, 2021.
  2. Areeb Ahmad on Zubaan Books, Nov. 29, 2021.
  3. Ghazala Jameel in The Hindu, Jan 15, 2022.
  4. Naazir Mahmood in Dawn, May 22, 2022.
  5. GJV Prasad in The Book Review, July 2022.

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