Read ice candy man by Bapsi Sidhwa Online

ice-candy-man

Now Filmed as 1947, a motion picture by Deepa Mehta Few novels have caught the turmoil of the Indian subcontinent during Partition with such immediacy, such wit and tragic power....

Title : ice candy man
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 19808925
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

ice candy man Reviews

  • Seanna
    2018-11-14 16:18

    I'd never have read this book if it wasn't for what this idiot did: http://www.montanasnews.com/articles....Basically it was a book in the local high school's IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum. One of the mothers decided it was pornographic and demanded the school remove it from their curriculum. So, being the Indian Porn aficionado that I am (is there such a thing? There must be), I trotted off immediately to the local porn purveyor and picked up a copy. Then I read it, waiting for the porn to happen. It never did. Instead, I was treated to an education on the partitioning of India as I traveled through the pages of a truly top-notch story. Highly recommended. Unless you are looking for Indian Pornography.

  • Asghar Abbas
    2018-11-05 19:02

    Sidhwa is definitely one of my favorite, favorite Pakistani writers. She is an inspiration, truly. But this is a harrowing and a very grim novel. Though it is arguably one of the best, if not the best work, on this theme, it is still bitter to read despite its excellence, or maybe because of it. It reveals all the raw wounds that are still fresh, without reflecting much on the healing part, but how do you heal from the wounds you inflicted yourself? The hand that had cut your skin and sliced your limbs was unsurprisingly your own. No balm for that. Maybe that's the whole point, this book serves as a mirror, a witness. It is almost nonfictional in its unbiased, bleak, unsentimental, unrestrained accounting of that brutal time. I feel people outside the subcontinent can marvel at the sublime writing here more, can appreciate it more as they should, I mean that part of history is still very much hard and painful to read about. It didn't show us what the occupying outside force but what we did to each other. The British didn't divide and conquer us, they only conquered us; we were already divided and we still are. People as whole are divided, in any place even within the same place. Its companion piece movie Earth is visually stunning and finest film ever made on this subject, a true motion picture. The movie highlighted a period often ignored and not looked into much deeply, but it is a fascinating piece of history that continues to teach us more about ourselves than we'd care to admit.

  • Anum Shaharyar
    2018-10-27 18:59

    There is much disturbing talk. India is going to be broken. Can one break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is? I ask Cousin.‘Rubbish,’ he says, ‘no one’s going to break India. It’s not made of glass!’Cracking India (also known as Ice Candy Man) is one of those novels that 16-year-old Anum (more interested in North American YA, not that there’s anything wrong with reading a particular genre as long as one matures enough to eventually give other genres and author nationalities a chance) would never have liked. But 24-year-old Anum can very clearly appreciate the importance of reading any and all fiction related to the 1947 partition - an event so shocking and traumatic that its repercussions still resonate in the here and now in both Pakistan and India (and of course Kashmir, but that is a topic for another day).For those of you who don’t exactly know what the partition was, (so basically most people who aren’t Pakistani or Indian – if you are either of these two, skip this whole paragraph) the summary goes: before 1947 there was one huge land area called the Indian subcontinent, ruled by these group of power-hungry, eventually-decadent rulers called the Mughal Emperors (think Taj Mahal, Akbar the Great, all those cool architectural wonders in India), who then lost power to the British colonial powers, who went around wrecking all kinds of havoc on the land, eventually causing the people in the area to want to kick the British people out (demand for self-independence, right to rule, lots of other important historical stuff that really is more interesting than our history books make them sound). But before the British could be kicked out, a decision had to be made about who was going to rule the area upon their leaving, and this led to major conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus in the subcontinent (not the only religious parties in the area but certainly those in the majority) who both had different ideas about what should happen. Long story very (very) short, in 1947 when the British eventually left, the whole area was divided into two: one piece was called India, and was considered the land of the Hindus (although of course other minorities continue to exist there, and the state is actually secular – again, a topic for another day) and a completely new state called Pakistan was created – supposedly a land for Muslims (but of course any well-read human being will tell you that the rampant violation of human rights make it something else entirely).Impromptu history lesson aside, this book is about partition, written from the point of view of a young Parsee girl (Zoroastrian for you, in case you didn’t know). Think The Diary of Anne Frank, except this is fiction and the setting is another major historical event involving lots of death and conflict and at the same time emergence of adulthood and the pains of growing up.Lenny, our protagonist, suffers from polio (Pakistan is one of the two countries where children still suffer from Poliomyelitis; literally the rest of the world has managed to eradicate it), a disease which affects young children and causes muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis. Taken care of by her Ayah, a beautiful young Hindu girl, we follow Lenny’s story through the events leading up to 1947 and afterwards, and even though I’ve spent literally my whole life reading dreary, boring historical texts about the partition, there’s something else entirely about reading how individuals got affected by the crushing brutality of those days.The radio announces through the crackling: ‘There have been reports of trouble in Gurdaspur. The situation is reported to be under control.’‘Which means there is uncontrollable butchering going on in Gurdaspur,’Ayah, as Lenny’s vivacious and responsible caretaker adored by her huge group of admirers, is the main proponent of our story, but there are enough side characters to retain our interest. Lenny, with her crippled leg, is more interested in retaining her abnormal foot, because she believes it helps her live a life more pampered than other people. Her doctor certainly encourages the notion by telling Lenny’s parents not to strain Lenny with studies and exams, to not pressure her nerves by sending her to school, to basically let Lenny live wild and free.What will happen once the cast comes off? What if my foot emerges immaculate, fault-free? Will I have to behave like other children, slogging for my share of love and other handouts? Aren’t I too old to learn to throw tantrums – or hold my breath and have a fit? While other children have to clamour and jump around to earn their candy I merely sit or stand, wearing my patient, butter-wouldn’t-melt expression . . . and displaying my callipers – and I am showered with candy.Right alongside Lenny’s growth from an innocent, pampered five-year-old to her teen years is the story of the partition and of how the changing times enter Lenny’s household as well. Her Ayah, who acts as a sort of beacon for men of all religions because of her beauty and sexuality, is always surrounded by Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, all of them intent on engaging in discussions not only about politics but about what to eat that day and where they want to meet up; mundane things, silly things amongst all the serious, charged atmosphere. This, I found truly intriguing. All these people belonging to different faiths sit down regularly and have frank, if sometimes bitter, but mostly honest conversations about what the political climate is like, and how it affects them. In the current times we live in, I honestly can’t imagine sitting down with a Christian or a Hindu belonging to my country and having an open conversation about the treatment of religious minorities over here, or what the politics of the country are doing to the religious atmosphere. ‘Funny things are happening inside the old city . . . Stabbings . . . Either the police can’t do anything – or they don’t want to. A body was stuffed into a manhole in my locality . . . It was discovered this morning because of the smell: a young, good-looking man.’One thing that manages to help balance the viciousness of the story’s darker side is Lenny’s own life and the characters that fill her surroundings. Her loving, stern mother and her quiet father, her younger brother and her cousin, the neighbours and the tenants, the chef and gardener and guard, all of these have a life of their own and dot Lenny’s life with what some might term as irrelevant rambling, but I thought were necessary for one to be able to breathe amongst all the other moments of sadness. Still, the majority of our story, being that it is situated in such a volatile period of history, comes back again and again to its main, central plot point: that of the partition itself.I become aware of religious differences.It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves – and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols. Ayah is no longer just my all-encompassing Ayah – she is also a token. A Hindu.But even though this story tackles such a sensitive topic, about a period of history riddled with so much violence and destruction, it’s still quite funny. Weird, but true. Blatant humour, subtle jesting, even moments of outright hilarity occur here and there, lending a lighter touch to the otherwise horrifying repetitions of rape, death and kidnapping that dot the narrative.‘If we must pack off, let’s go to London at least. We are the English king’s subjects aren’t we? So, we are English!’And of course, it was inevitable that familiar names - names I’ve seen regularly in textbooks and figures I’ve seen famous pictures of – would eventually crop up, because what is a discussion about the 1947 partition without Jinnah (the Pakistani leader) or Gandhi (the Indian one)? But the fascinating thing this story does is that it plants these figures in that time very solidly, like figurines coming to life out of history books. Suddenly the actions of Nehru and Gandhi and Jinnah and Lord Wavell and Mountbatten, people who existed too long away for me to really care about, suddenly seem much more significant, carrying so much more weight.‘What’s it to us if Jinnah, Nehru and Patel fight? They are not fighting our fight,’ says Ayah, lightly.‘That may be true, but they are stirring up trouble for us all.’But the book makes it clear that for most of the characters, the machinations and manipulations of the leaders feel like they’re far away from their own lives. Only a few raise their heads up and face the fact that the effects of dealings at a government level are spilling over into the streets, but the idea that politics happen at a distance from the civilians, who love all their neighbours equally irrespective of religion, is part of an overall theme that’s repeated again-‘Our villages come from the same racial stock. Muslim or Sikh, we are basically Jats. We are brothers. How can we fight each other?’And again-“So what if you’re a Sikh? I’m first a friend to my friends . . . And an enemy to their enemies . . . And then a Mussulman! God and the politicians have enough servers. So, I serve my friends.”And again-‘I’m alert to what’s happening . . . I have a radio. But our relationships with the Hindus are bound by strong ties. The city folk can afford to fight . . . we can’t. We are dependent on each other: bound by our toil. To us villagers, what does it matter if a peasant is a Hindu, or a Muslim, or a Sikh?’However, all of that crumbles and falls apart once the actual rioting starts, because even though the Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus remain friends, their relatives are raped and kidnapped and butchered by other Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus, and it is only a matter of time before they fall upon each other. And when they do, when friends turn against each other, it is where the story hurts the most. Those were the moments when you need a break from reading this novel, because you ache both for the Muslim whose family has been slaughtered during a train ride, but you also pity the Hindu whose family is the one the remaining Muslims take their anger out on. There’s no end to the viciousness, the circle of vengeance and killing that erupted during the partition (the largest mass migration in human history, with millions of deaths on both side, and unbelievably chilling statistics. An example: Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered.) A naked child, twitching on a spear struck between her shoulders, is waved like a flag: her screamless mouth agape she is staring straight up at me. A crimson fury blinds me. I want to dive into the bestial creature clawing entrails, plucking eyes, tearing limbs, gouging hearts, smashing brains: but the creature has too many stony hearts, too many sightless eyes, deaf ears, mindless brains and tons of entwined entrails. . .At its heart the story is about Lenny’s passage into her teen years, as a child suffering from polio, discovering her sexuality, learning the difference between white lies and truth, but because it is set in such an important period of history, it becomes something more. And even though it’s not the best thing I’ve read by far, it was still chilling enough, still visceral enough for me to stop and feel and think more deeply about partition than the sort of second-hand barely-there sympathy you feel after reading about it in history books. RecommendationI am Pakistani. In a snap. Just like that.The story is vicious in its honesty, and in how the characters react to the situations around them. There really are no moments of hiding the brutality, and it’s heartbreaking. Definitely recommended, but only if you’re in the mood.**I review Pakistani Fiction, and talk about Pakistani fiction, and want to talk to people who like to talk about fiction (Pakistani and otherwise, take your pick.) To read more reviews or just contact me so you can talk about books, check out my Blog or follow me on Twitter!**ORIGINAL UPDATE:So apparently Ice Candy Man and Cracking India are the same book. Different names. Thank god for best friends who are completing a thesis which requires them to be smart and know this stuff. (Also, shouldn't Goodreads have a system where they categorize this as one book?)

  • Anum Shaharyar
    2018-11-17 18:19

    There is much disturbing talk. India is going to be broken. Can one break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is? I ask Cousin.‘Rubbish,’ he says, ‘no one’s going to break India. It’s not made of glass!’Ice Candy Man (also known as Cracking India) is one of those novels that 16-year-old Anum (more interested in North American YA, not that there’s anything wrong with reading a particular genre as long as one matures enough to eventually give other genres and author nationalities a chance) would never have liked. But 24-year-old Anum can very clearly appreciate the importance of reading any and all fiction related to the 1947 partition - an event so shocking and traumatic that its repercussions still resonate in the here and now in both Pakistan and India (and of course Kashmir, but that is a topic for another day).For those of you who don’t exactly know what the partition was, (so basically most people who aren’t Pakistani or Indian – if you are either of these two, skip this whole paragraph) the summary goes: before 1947 there was one huge land area called the Indian subcontinent, ruled by these group of power-hungry, eventually-decadent rulers called the Mughal Emperors (think Taj Mahal, Akbar the Great, all those cool architectural wonders in India), who then lost power to the British colonial powers, who went around wrecking all kinds of havoc on the land, eventually causing the people in the area to want to kick the British people out (demand for self-independence, right to rule, lots of other important historical stuff that really is more interesting than our history books make them sound). But before the British could be kicked out, a decision had to be made about who was going to rule the area upon their leaving, and this led to major conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus in the subcontinent (not the only religious parties in the area but certainly those in the majority) who both had different ideas about what should happen. Long story very (very) short, in 1947 when the British eventually left, the whole area was divided into two: one piece was called India, and was considered the land of the Hindus (although of course other minorities continue to exist there, and the state is actually secular – again, a topic for another day) and a completely new state called Pakistan was created – supposedly a land for Muslims (but of course any well-read human being will tell you that the rampant violation of human rights make it something else entirely).Impromptu history lesson aside, this book is about partition, written from the point of view of a young Parsee girl (Zoroastrian for you, in case you didn’t know). Think The Diary of Anne Frank, except this is fiction and the setting is another major historical event involving lots of death and conflict and at the same time emergence of adulthood and the pains of growing up.Lenny, our protagonist, suffers from polio (Pakistan is one of the two countries where children still suffer from Poliomyelitis; literally the rest of the world has managed to eradicate it), a disease which affects young children and causes muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis. Taken care of by her Ayah, a beautiful young Hindu girl, we follow Lenny’s story through the events leading up to 1947 and afterwards, and even though I’ve spent literally my whole life reading dreary, boring historical texts about the partition, there’s something else entirely about reading how individuals got affected by the crushing brutality of those days.The radio announces through the crackling: ‘There have been reports of trouble in Gurdaspur. The situation is reported to be under control.’‘Which means there is uncontrollable butchering going on in Gurdaspur,’Ayah, as Lenny’s vivacious and responsible caretaker adored by her huge group of admirers, is the main proponent of our story, but there are enough side characters to retain our interest. Lenny, with her crippled leg, is more interested in retaining her abnormal foot, because she believes it helps her live a life more pampered than other people. Her doctor certainly encourages the notion by telling Lenny’s parents not to strain Lenny with studies and exams, to not pressure her nerves by sending her to school, to basically let Lenny live wild and free.What will happen once the cast comes off? What if my foot emerges immaculate, fault-free? Will I have to behave like other children, slogging for my share of love and other handouts? Aren’t I too old to learn to throw tantrums – or hold my breath and have a fit? While other children have to clamour and jump around to earn their candy I merely sit or stand, wearing my patient, butter-wouldn’t-melt expression . . . and displaying my callipers – and I am showered with candy.Right alongside Lenny’s growth from an innocent, pampered five-year-old to her teen years is the story of the partition and of how the changing times enter Lenny’s household as well. Her Ayah, who acts as a sort of beacon for men of all religions because of her beauty and sexuality, is always surrounded by Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, all of them intent on engaging in discussions not only about politics but about what to eat that day and where they want to meet up; mundane things, silly things amongst all the serious, charged atmosphere. This, I found truly intriguing. All these people belonging to different faiths sit down regularly and have frank, if sometimes bitter, but mostly honest conversations about what the political climate is like, and how it affects them. In the current times we live in, I honestly can’t imagine sitting down with a Christian or a Hindu belonging to my country and having an open conversation about the treatment of religious minorities over here, or what the politics of the country are doing to the religious atmosphere. ‘Funny things are happening inside the old city . . . Stabbings . . . Either the police can’t do anything – or they don’t want to. A body was stuffed into a manhole in my locality . . . It was discovered this morning because of the smell: a young, good-looking man.’One thing that manages to help balance the viciousness of the story’s darker side is Lenny’s own life and the characters that fill her surroundings. Her loving, stern mother and her quiet father, her younger brother and her cousin, the neighbours and the tenants, the chef and gardener and guard, all of these have a life of their own and dot Lenny’s life with what some might term as irrelevant rambling, but I thought were necessary for one to be able to breathe amongst all the other moments of sadness. Still, the majority of our story, being that it is situated in such a volatile period of history, comes back again and again to its main, central plot point: that of the partition itself.I become aware of religious differences.It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves – and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols. Ayah is no longer just my all-encompassing Ayah – she is also a token. A Hindu.But even though this story tackles such a sensitive topic, about a period of history riddled with so much violence and destruction, it’s still quite funny. Weird, but true. Blatant humour, subtle jesting, even moments of outright hilarity occur here and there, lending a lighter touch to the otherwise horrifying repetitions of rape, death and kidnapping that dot the narrative.‘If we must pack off, let’s go to London at least. We are the English king’s subjects aren’t we? So, we are English!’And of course, it was inevitable that familiar names - names I’ve seen regularly in textbooks and figures I’ve seen famous pictures of – would eventually crop up, because what is a discussion about the 1947 partition without Jinnah (the Pakistani leader) or Gandhi (the Indian one)? But the fascinating thing this story does is that it plants these figures in that time very solidly, like figurines coming to life out of history books. Suddenly the actions of Nehru and Gandhi and Jinnah and Lord Wavell and Mountbatten, people who existed too long away for me to really care about, suddenly seem much more significant, carrying so much more weight.‘What’s it to us if Jinnah, Nehru and Patel fight? They are not fighting our fight,’ says Ayah, lightly.‘That may be true, but they are stirring up trouble for us all.’But the book makes it clear that for most of the characters, the machinations and manipulations of the leaders feel like they’re far away from their own lives. Only a few raise their heads up and face the fact that the effects of dealings at a government level are spilling over into the streets, but the idea that politics happen at a distance from the civilians, who love all their neighbours equally irrespective of religion, is part of an overall theme that’s repeated again-‘Our villages come from the same racial stock. Muslim or Sikh, we are basically Jats. We are brothers. How can we fight each other?’And again-“So what if you’re a Sikh? I’m first a friend to my friends . . . And an enemy to their enemies . . . And then a Mussulman! God and the politicians have enough servers. So, I serve my friends.”And again-‘I’m alert to what’s happening . . . I have a radio. But our relationships with the Hindus are bound by strong ties. The city folk can afford to fight . . . we can’t. We are dependent on each other: bound by our toil. To us villagers, what does it matter if a peasant is a Hindu, or a Muslim, or a Sikh?’However, all of that crumbles and falls apart once the actual rioting starts, because even though the Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus remain friends, their relatives are raped and kidnapped and butchered by other Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus, and it is only a matter of time before they fall upon each other. And when they do, when friends turn against each other, it is where the story hurts the most. Those were the moments when you need a break from reading this novel, because you ache both for the Muslim whose family has been slaughtered during a train ride, but you also pity the Hindu whose family is the one the remaining Muslims take their anger out on. There’s no end to the viciousness, the circle of vengeance and killing that erupted during the partition (the largest mass migration in human history, with millions of deaths on both side, and unbelievably chilling statistics. An example: Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered.) A naked child, twitching on a spear struck between her shoulders, is waved like a flag: her screamless mouth agape she is staring straight up at me. A crimson fury blinds me. I want to dive into the bestial creature clawing entrails, plucking eyes, tearing limbs, gouging hearts, smashing brains: but the creature has too many stony hearts, too many sightless eyes, deaf ears, mindless brains and tons of entwined entrails. . .At its heart the story is about Lenny’s passage into her teen years, as a child suffering from polio, discovering her sexuality, learning the difference between white lies and truth, but because it is set in such an important period of history, it becomes something more. And even though it’s not the best thing I’ve read by far, it was still chilling enough, still visceral enough for me to stop and feel and think more deeply about partition than the sort of second-hand barely-there sympathy you feel after reading about it in history books. RecommendationI am Pakistani. In a snap. Just like that.The story is vicious in its honesty, and in how the characters react to the situations around them. There really are no moments of hiding the brutality, and it’s heartbreaking. Definitely recommended, but only if you’re in the mood.**I review Pakistani Fiction, and talk about Pakistani fiction, and want to talk to people who like to talk about fiction (Pakistani and otherwise, take your pick.) To read more reviews or just contact me so you can talk about books, check out my Blog or follow me on Twitter!**ORIGINAL UPDATE:Whoa. That was so much more emotional than I thought it would be.

  • Vaishali
    2018-11-04 15:19

    Ice-Candy-Man reminds you of Ann Frank’s Diary, only it’s based on a tragedy closer home: the horrors of communal atrocities during the India-Pakistan partition. It’s a coming-of-age story of a little Parsee girl, Lenny, who lives in 1947 Lahore in a happy-go-lucky, protected environment of a child, until political & social upheavals of the country change the dynamics of her world. Like Ann Frank’s Diary, it’s an account of a brutal world through the eyes of an innocent, and in that respect, has the capability to connect with the reader incomparably. The author, Bapsi Sidhwa, has cleverly comprised different economic strata in the story by elaborating on Lenny’s relationships with her servants (particularly her 18 years old, growing beautiful, care taker Ayah), her observation of her parents’ friend circle and her associations with her own relatives. Sidhwa brings parity in the subject by weaving in Lenny’s visit to her servant’s Muslim village Pir Pindo, which comes under post-partition India, while Lahore forms part of Pakistan. The massacres & evacuation tales of Muslims from Pir Pindo, and similar atrocities on Hindus/Sikhs in Lahore, give a balanced perspective, which is interesting as the story is supposed to be limited by only what the 8 years old Lenny observes & hears around her. Sidhwa brings out the characters & society of 1947 most vividly. A culturally beautiful Lahore of communal harmony unfolds in front of your eyes as you read through the pages. The language used is typically educated English of the British era interlaced with Punjabi & Urdu slangs and phrases, which brings local flavour and authenticity.Being written from the curious view point of a child, Ice-Candy-Man is a narrative of discoveries. As the snooping Lenny observes and writes about her everyday life, including things she is not supposed to know of, the story appears mysterious and humorous and even the mundane life of a family reads intriguing. However, where Ice-Candy-Man lacks is in creating sufficient depth of emotions towards the climax. The story is at its high point when the Ice-Candy-Man has had a change of heart in the light of recent massacres. The transformation of one of her most trusted friends should have been the ultimate focal point of the story, as also suggested by the title of the book. Incidentally, this is the point where Deepa Mehta’s film 1947: Earth (inspired by the book), ends too, and hence is much more hard-hitting than the novel. Unfortunately, in the book, Sidhwa continues the story post this major incident of betrayal immediately affecting Lenny, whereby this event seems to get hurried and unjustifiably short treatment. Sidhwa’s objective seems to be telling the readers about the partition in Lenny’s words, rather than the turmoil of Lenny’s personal world. This is fine in itself if the author had aimed so, but then, the title of the story gives a misleading expectation to the reader. The character of Godmother becomes quite powerful suddenly in the last pages, which seems disconnected from the rest of the story. All in all, Ice-Candy-Man is an interesting read, a gripping tale that transports you to pre-India partition era and makes you feel sorry for the loss of a beautiful world that could have been.

  • Marcy
    2018-11-11 14:09

    Bapsi Sidhwa's novel is an incredibly moving account of the partition of India. I love the narration through the point of view of the young Lenny whose innocence is cracked along with her country. I think Sidhwa does a terrific job of illustrating the horror that colonialism leaves even in its aftermath. I especially love the contrast that Sidhwa shows between how relations among Indians were before and after partition and clearly points the finger at the British Empire's efforts to divide the country. The unfolding of this narrative, however, through Lenny's coming to understand the way her country breaks apart is what makes it such a tremendous story.

  • Suha
    2018-11-06 21:00

    *contains spoilers*I was truly excited to read a book about the partition. However, this book was a colossal disappointment. Not only is the writing very vague and ambiguous (leaving you with a lot of '???'), but I also don't see how this is written from a child's perspective. The kind of observations Lenny makes, the very writing and use of difficult words, the actions this 'innocent' child does.I mean, everyone has sex on their mind in this book, even the kids, more or less. Is India's overpopulation being justified here or what? Most of those particular passages contributed nothing to the story overall.It might be wrong of me to compare but to put this book side by side with Persepolis (which comprises of a similar theme), I found the protagonist to be charmless, for the lack of a better word. It felt as though picking a child for a protagonist was a move to say anything and get away with it using her 'ignorance and innocence' as a scapegoat by the writer.The book dribbles on to irrelevant details and unnecessary situations. There is a mention of Ayah's 'voluminous globules' and the like every 5th page. We get it, she's attractive. The fact now haunts me at night, thanks a lot. The characters are unrelatable brick walls. The actual details of the partition are lost between this bland narration. However I will say that the horrors of what went on during that time were gripping whenever it was described. I also found Lenny's encounter with Gandhi particularly interesting. Iqbal's poetry interspersed within the writing was also nice.But all-in-all, I will hurriedly pass this book on to the next poor junior who will have to read this for a series of tasteless Literature classes in their final year. Sayonara.

  • Jennie
    2018-11-15 20:20

    This book was unsuccessfully challenged in DeLand, Florida, so of course, I went out and read it right way. Sidhwa tells the story of the partition of India through the eyes of young Lenny, who is a Parsee girl living in Lahore. This book is violent. There's talk of rape and sex. And oh, the violence. I can see why some people would want it banned, but it is no more violent than the actual events were. This was a hard book. It deals with this period of time with no background information. I really don't know much about this, so I had to look a lot of things up. The writing style, while beautiful and fitting, isn't an easy read. This would be a wonderful book to teach and read in school. It's dense and layered and the history is tragic, but so much history is. It also really puts current India/Pakistani border clashes and politics in perspective.If you don't know a lot about partition, make sure you have access to an encyclopedia-- I had to look a lot of things up.

  • Shinde
    2018-10-24 14:57

    Brutal. Honest. Raw. Visceral etching of human behavior.

  • Alissa Gundrum
    2018-10-25 14:56

    *3.25*

  • Anushree Thareja
    2018-11-03 19:20

    A harrowing narrative of the emotional anguish and physical agony undergone by the people of the Indian sub-continent at the time of partition. Sidhwa presents the tale through the eyes of a child which not only makes the account more compelling and astute, but also imparts an objectivity to it. The idea that during a religious turmoil people become acutely aware of their religious identity and turn into mere symbols of their religion plays a significant role in shaping the events in the novel. The author also highlights how in turbulent times religion and gender both work to mutilate the female.

  • OMalleycat
    2018-11-10 13:56

    Such a sad and beautiful story. One reads about the Partition of India and Pakistan as a big event, but this book tells the story from a personal perspective. Added to that is that the narrator is a very young girl. In her short lifespan her India goes from an almost magical place of varied and fascinating people living and playing together to a baffling site of unexplainable tragedy. I loved this book.

  • Misha Husnain Ali
    2018-10-31 15:55

    The prose is a bit lacking, but the story is powerful enough to overcome it for me. I was genuinely upset by this book and the matter of fact way it deals with the tragedy unfolding.Some of the more upsetting things in this book are just the everyday exposure of a child protagonist to lust, even dangerously close to attempted rape near the end. I found the ending more satisfying than the movie ending.

  • Nicole Aswad
    2018-11-11 15:09

    Personally I thought Cracking India was a little boring and a bit too historical for my own taste. The book got slightly interesting starting from part where Ayah is captured, other than that I found it to be slow at the beginning and it didn't really get any better towards the middle.

  • Marie
    2018-11-02 17:58

    It takes place in 1940s Lahore and is narrated by a young girl from an affluent Parsee family. We get to hear her perspective on the Partition of India - which is something I've never learned about from ANYONE'S perspective before. This novel inspired a lot of research and further learning by me, which is exactly what I'm always looking for in a book. Lenny is looked after by her nanny, her Ayah, who is charming and strikingly beautiful. Men of all religions and ages are drawn to her. Therefore, 8-year-old Lenny is able to listen in on political discussions that take place amongst the Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians who flock to Ayah. During the events that lead up to the partition in 1947, this cohesive group of people suddenly begins to argue and divide. And I become aware of religious differences.It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves - and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols.Cracking India - meaning dividing or partitioning India - is about the sudden boundary that was created demarcating India and Pakistan called the Radcliffe Line. Playing British gods under the ceiling fans of the Faletti's Hotel - behind Queen Victoria's gardened skirt - the Radcliff Commission deals out Indian cities like a pack of cards. Lahore is dealt to Pakistan, Amritsar to India. Sialkot to Pakistan. Pathankot to India.I am Pakistani. In a snap. Just like that.The Partition set off the largest mass migration in human history. The viciousness and vengeful killings described were, at times, too much for me to handle. I had to step away from the descriptions of rape, torture and murder of women and children. Millions of deaths on both sides. It's impossible for me to understand how people can take their anger and vengeance out on innocent civilians. The writing was spectacular, but I probably had to reference a dictionary more often than ever before. So many big vocab words! The biggest difficulty in reading this book, though, was attempting to keep track the huge number of characters that were introduced. I could have used a character glossary.

  • Ian
    2018-11-13 15:07

    A hard-hitting novel about the Partition of India, as seen through the eyes of a young girl.The story covers, roughly, the years 1943 to 1948 (As the story is told from a child’s perspective, we aren’t given dates. These have to be inferred from mention of world events). The central character, Lenny, is about four years old when the novel opens, growing up in Lahore in a prosperous family from the tiny Parsi (Zoroastrian) religious minority, but with her physical development affected by polio. In all of these things she is a close match for the real life author. I don’t know how much else in the novel is autobiographical. It develops with Lenny observing the world largely through the life of her ayah, a young woman with a veritable legion of male admirers, as well as through the lives of her relatives, her neighbours and the other household servants. Slowly all these relationships are pulled apart by the rising ethnic tension. As a reader, I felt that that the author built the atmosphere gradually, using conversations between the characters as ominous signs of what was to come, but from Lenny’s point of view:“It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves – and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols.”Unlike one-sided persecutions like the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide, the Partition was an event in which large numbers of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs both killed and were killed. This is reflected in the novel where the author does not show partisanship between the ethnic groups. It seemed to me though that she did want to make the point that whilst both men and women were victims of the violence, women were almost entirely absent from the perpetrators, and in particular she uses the novel to attack the pernicious idea that women who are the victims of kidnapping and rape are somehow “shamed” or “fallen”.There were several scenes, set amongst the Parsi community or Lenny’s family, where the author seemed to be trying to introduce an element of comedy. If so these scenes didn’t really work for me. The character of Lenny could also at times be an odd mix of childhood naivete and sharp intelligence, but overall I thought this was a very high quality novel, and an uncomfortable warning as to how quickly it can all fall apart.

  • Nicole Means
    2018-11-07 20:56

    One of the 'biggest lies' that of history is that the Greatest Migration of Hindus and Muslims between Pakistan and India was a peaceful event. History books wash over this migration as people moving from their homes and peacefully making a new life in a country where their religion was majority rule; this fabrication of history fails to capture the violence, murder, and forced evacuation that surrounded this "great" migration. Perhaps history books should change the name from "Great Migration" to "Most Violent Migration" in history. Although "Cracking India" is a novel, Bapsi Sidhwa captures the hearts of her readers through the eyes of Lenny, a young girl, who, "just like that" became a citizen of Pakistan. Many people thought their relocation was only temporary. Once families were forcibly evacuated, mass looting took place and new families moved into the evacuated homes. Those who refused to move were often violently taken or killed. What struck me most about this novel was that Gandhi worked tirelessly to promote nonviolent resistance against British rule, but once the Brits were gone, violence persisted. Mobs attacked people who were not of the majority faith. People were attacked in holy temples, mosques. Neighbors turned against neighbors and joined merciless mobs in the name of religion. The more I learn about the world's history the more I am reminded that history constantly repeats itself. Perhaps if our history books did not sugarcoat incidences such as this and others, we could actually learn from our mistakes to ensure history does not repeat itself.

  • Ananya M
    2018-10-22 14:52

    I really don’t know what to make of this book. It was honestly one of the most disturbing, strangest books I’ve ever read. It has such graphic (unnecessary according to me) details, it ruined the authentic partition feel for me. When it wasn’t about the partition, it felt like reading about child abuse. Idk. I really didn’t like it all that much.

  • Paige
    2018-10-18 15:10

    I picked this up after hearing the author read and speak on a panel. She was delightful, and I wish I had time to binge read her novels. This one is full of wit and pathos, populated with people who manage to be both familiar and intriguing. A heartbreaking and fascinating slice of history with continuing ramifications today. I'll go back to Bapsi Sidhwa as a treat for myself.

  • Nathaniel
    2018-10-31 16:53

    Perhaps I'm the wrong audience for this book. Perhaps it was a bad translation. Perhaps I'm just in a really bad mood. But I really, really did not enjoy this book. This is a book about civic turmoil in 1940's Lahore as it transitions from India to Pakistan, from the perspective of a little girl. It is a book in which several people are harassed or killed by religious extremists, and in which half of the characters die or disappear. Yet I still found it to be boring, uneven, and poorly suited to the novel format. Though Sidhwa masterfully communicates a sense of innocent cluelessness in her young protagonist, who often recounts events she has observed without understanding them, this device often results in the reader lacking crucial information about what is actually occurring in the book. Much of what actually occurs is also only things that a young girl in a repressive culture would see, so there's more description of people sitting around the house talking or kids horsing around with each other than anything else. It is consequently difficult to develop any sort of emotional stock in the characters, who flit in and out and ultimately mostly are killed off abruptly "offscreen" without much dimensionality or purpose. There is also no story arc, and the protagonist never develops at all - it's really just a very long series of observations about a turbulent period in history as recounted by a little girl. In that sense, this book is very educational, and I learned a lot about the history of the India/Pakistan split. But "educational" is really all this story has going for it. As a memoir or in some other nonfiction format it might have been interesting, but as a novel it just doesn't work.Again, I'm probably not the right person to appreciate this book. But unless you're a very, very committed third world development crusader of the old (1970's-1990's) school, you'll probably not find much to like here.

  • Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
    2018-10-21 14:18

    "Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Iqbal, Tara Singh, Moutbatten are names I hear. And I become aware of religious differences. It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves-and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian...What is God?" -Bapsi SidhwaThose sentences and that overarching question pretty much sums up this graphic and truly saddening book about the Partition of India. It is a story about Lenny-baby and her coming of age story during a time when India decided to split and partly become Pakistan. Lenny-baby lives with her relatively upper class family live in India amongst a wide diversity of religions. Her Ayah (nanny) is Hindu and gives Lenny the love that she seems to lack from her busy mother. Ayah takes Lenny around town with her and exposes her to many different things all the while hatred and discontent seep into the narrative. Religions begin to turn on each other. When it all comes to a peak no one is safe and everybody feels the traumatic effects of splitting a nation. I will heads up by saying this narrative is not for the faint of heart. There are rapes, beheadings, forced marriage/prostitution, domestic violence, and a creepy/uncomfortable incestuous love. (squirm, squirm) I will say that I appreciate this narrative for it taking on a very hard subject and give kudos to the author in her brilliant portrayal of a subject I had previously known little about. "Shall I hear the lament of the nightingale, submissively lending my ear?Am I the rose to suffer its cry in silence year after year?The fire of verse gives me courage and bids me no more to be faint.With dust in my mouth, I am abject: to God I make my complaint.Sometimes You favor our rivals then sometimes with us You are free,I am sorry to say it so boldly. You are no less fickle than we."-Iqbal

  • Katie
    2018-11-13 19:05

    Good opening paragraph, sketching the Lenny's childhood world. At age four her world is circumscribed not only by her age and gender, but by the effects of polio as an infant. Her family is indulgent and loving, and she is surrounded by neighbours and servants of every conceivable religious and ethnic background, who at the start, all appear to live in harmony.The story continues against the background of the political storm brewing in the colonial world of India, as the British Empire recedes, and the division into two nations, India and Pakistan, leaving violence, destruction, and rivers of blood in its wake.India doesn't so much crack as it splinters into mutually distrusting ethnic and religious factions. The violence and horror is seen through the eyes of a very young girl. Although Lenny is somewhat insulated by her protective parents, she cannot be sheltered from the events around her. The stories of the innocents trapped in the uproar are of Lenny's childhood friend, a boy from a Sikh village, and her beloved Hindu Amah, whose fate is sealed by being on the wrong side of the river on a map drawn up thousands of miles away.

  • Tilly
    2018-11-02 21:17

    Reading Sidhwa's novel made me realise how thoroughly ignorant I was about Partition. Something approaching 12-15 million people were displaced, and between 1 and 3 million were killed in what many later referred to as a 'summer of insanity', and this novel gave me a brilliant understanding of the historical era and happenings that constitute its setting.As a literary construction, the novel is great. The story uses the trope of the innocent child to frame its narrative, as seen in other trauma tales like Safran Foer's 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' and Begnini's 'La Vita e Bella' - this is probably the only way that a traumatic story that remains in living memory could have been told, and the framing gives the events a profoundly human element that helps the reader understand partition in terms of its consequences, rather than in bare factual terms. Heartily recommended, but be warned: it's harrowing, and it'll stay with you.

  • Samar
    2018-10-18 19:15

    Or more accurately 1.5 stars to be exact. What do I say about this novel... If I hadn't been forced to read it, I would never have gone even 5 miles near it. Still an understatement. But in any case, it did have some redeeming qualities. The concept of stylistic fragmentation brilliantly resembled the thematic fragmentation of the chaotic plot and the perverse characters involved. What bugged me no end was the blatant use of sexual content mixed with a demeaning portrayal of female anatomy. Why must these writers bring in such needless images in order to pass themselves of as mature writers, willing to cross boundaries and firmly ensure the world of their "liberality" midst "orthodox fundamentalism"? Her notions concerning the issue of partition or more appropriately an anti-partition stance fail to realize the limitations of the Utopian world she wishes to introduce. Altogether a disappointing read.

  • Rose
    2018-10-23 15:59

    This book went from a 4 to a 2 rating after my second reading. I think I originally rated it so highly because I thought the movie version (Earth) was hot and I had watched that after the first time I read it.During this reading, I realized that the prose wasn't that good, compared to other Indian writers. I think there were a lot of tedious unnecessary descriptions and tedious, unnecessary characters, and the pacing wasn't that great. Really, the only compelling story is about Ayah and her admirers, which we get some of, but it just breaks off in the middle and goes into some other uncompelling story about Lenny. Stories of the Partition were violent and fascinating. But again, I think they were interspersed with too much minutiae that the author included only because she liked them and not because they had a place in telling a coherent story.

  • sweet pea
    2018-10-29 21:56

    as a fan of Deepa Mehta's films, i was quite excited to read this book. the first part of the book explores the quotidian of Lenny's life. four year's old at the book start, polio has left one of her feet non-banal. kept out of school, she has privileged access to viewing adults' lives, their loves and violence. the novel focuses on the creation of Pakistan, an event we hear little about in the US. the religious strife and "patriotism" that ensues paints a bloody picture of a tempestuous time. much more violent, sexual, complex, and intriguing than the film Earth, Lenny is one of the most unique characters ever created and an interesting conduit to tell the story.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-13 20:57

    This book was recommended to me from an India studies major, and generally wacky coworker who had never heard of The Clash. I liked the characters, but felt that I missed out on a lot of the cultural, linguistic and historical details. There are parts though that even without historical context are unbearably sad and difficult. While I don’t enjoy gory-difficult, I do enjoy challenges, and a story that pushes my boundaries. This book isn’t groundbreaking. But I love novels that open new worlds to me, either through construct or content. I would have never picked this book up on my own, so I’m glad for the recommendation and opening of new horizons.

  • Narendra
    2018-10-29 19:59

    Deepa Mehta's movie "Earth" is based on this and I can recall the tragic ending even today (several years after seeing the movie). The tragedy on the individual level of the protagonists in the book is intertwined with the millions of people who have died since the partition of the sub-continent. The sorrow is too close and personal, so I cannot bring myself to finish reading the book. The book itself is well written and worth a read.

  • Anil Swarup
    2018-10-25 14:54

    Another "cracking" book on how the partition of the country devastated millions. The narration is gripping and the story gets conveyed through the turmoil that a child goes through as she evolves along with the devastation all around her. It is a "Train to Pakistan" from the other side of the border.

  • Claire S
    2018-11-11 16:09

    Almost was thinking to read this now, because I just watched Aamir Khan in 'Earth' again today, an excellent telling of these events. But.. the tone doesn't fit for me right now. And also just picked up a book from my daughter's history curriculum that will be my main book for a while, this doesn't work as a secondary book I don't think. So, will wait a bit longer..