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Cracking India Paperback – September, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915943565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915943562
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,181,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The narrator of Sidwha's ( The Bride ) timely novel about the violent 1947 partition of India is the extremely observant Lenny Sethi, whose family belongs to the Parsee community in Lahore. As a child, a polio victim and a member of a minority, she is the perfect witness (though somewhat precocious) to the historic upheaval. Sidwha tempers Lenny's hyper-awareness, however, by capturing the whole range of her fears and joys as her innocence becomes another casualty of the violence among Moslems, Sikhs and Hindus. At one point Lenny declares: "Lying doesn't become me. I can't get away with the littlest thing." Persuasive, this statement reinforces earlier comments she lets slip about herself which display this artless candor: "the manipulative power of my limp"; "I place a hypocritical arm protectively round her shoulders." Lenny's honesty is compelling, and the reader, like many in the story, cannot help but trust her. She is alternately thrilled and frightened by the events she dutifully records, and so, in the end, is the reader.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Presented in the first person by a sparsely educated Parsee girl in Lahore named Lenny, who grows from four to eight as she narrates, this novel is incongruously overloaded with erudite diction. Thus, unlike Huck Finn's tale, this child's story becomes unbelievable. Despite the title, it focuses on the everyday lives of Lenny, her family, and their associates, often interesting but frequently trivial. Throughout the book, Lenny includes verbatim transcriptions of extended conversations/situations about racial relations, sex, politics, religion, and selected aspects of the 1947 Partition. Sadly, the promise of the novel (semi-autobiographical?) is inadequately fulfilled and seems to falter from its conception. (Needed: a glossary of Indian words.)-- Glenn O. Carey, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Muslims slaughtered Hindus...Hindus slaughtered Muslims.
Donna Davis Idrees (bbwmor2luv@hotmail.com)
Since I am from the same background, I especially enjoyed the local Urdu/Punjabi phrases/terms interspered throughout the book.
A Book Lover
Cracking India is very compelling and unique, completely engaging, and excruciatingly real.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By "singhr5" on November 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read this book several years ago and was thrilled that it was finally made into a movie by Deepa Mehta. "Earth" is a great film but I don't think even it can do do justice to this amazing book. My mother's family is from Lahore and came to the Indian side of the border as refugees in 1947 so this book has a very personal meaning for me. It is a wonderful depiction of growing up as a child in Lahore and very authentic. I thought the love story between Ayah and Ice Candy Man was incredibly sad. Ultimately, she was unable to return his love and unable to forgive him for kidnapping her and forcing her to work as a dancing girl before marrying her. My grandparents told me that there were many such sad stories of women who were abducted and never seen by their families again. Unfortunately in times of conflict, it's always the women and children who suffer the most. To me, the most intruiging aspect of the book is that it is written from the girl child's viewpoint and Sidhwa really does try to capture the viewpoint of an 8-year old, although some of the observations were probably too mature for that age. What is amazing is how comic scenes are interspersed with scenes of horrifying brutality. I must disagree with some of the previous reviewers who felt the book was biased towards Pakistan - at no point does Sidhwa blame one community more than another, rather she feels that all communities were to blame for the atrocities that were committed all all sides during Partition to more or less the same extent. If you are interested in reading more fiction that is set against the backdrop of Partition, I would recommend Manohar Malgaonkar's "A Bend in the Ganges". Again, this is a story told from the feminine viewpoint, except that it is an adult woman, Sundari, who is at the center of the story. It may be hard to get hold of in the U.S. but it's well worth the effort!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This tragic story is very personal, as told by a young girl, Lenny Sethi (possibly autobiographical?) living in the Punjab region of northwest India during the few years prior to and after the partition of India. History is full of such terrible stories and horrible truths, but Cracking India has a very familial impact, and completely feminine perspective. We are allowed to become part of the extended family that comprises Lenny's young life. There is a comfortable mix of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Parsees, and Christians prior to the partition, and Bapsi Sidhwa immerses us completely in that unique and unusual world. What a fragile, terrible facade it turned out to be.

Sidhwa does not try to inform us why people are so often so terrible to each other. Is she suggesting that no such understanding is possible? She shows that people live through, but often not beyond, such events. Cracking India is very compelling and unique, completely engaging, and excruciatingly real. I found this story to be completely believable, as the story of a young girl told through her adult perspectives. A completely different world was mine for a brief time in reading Cracking India, and for all its terrors, I am glad I was there. Highest recommendation.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wrenched from the security of the familiar, a young girl gleans intimate knowledge of the nature of betrayal. As a cosseted child, Lenny's short life is defined by the affection of family, friends and her beloved Ayah. As most children who have the blessing of regularity in their lives and know the indulgence of boredom, Lenny is on an intimate terms with mundane household affairs and neighborhood gossip, her extended family ever available for entertainment and amusing peccadilloes. The family's simple life changes forever with the Partition of India in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan for Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs remaining in the state of India. As citizens of the newly formed Pakistan, this family's everyday reality begins to shift with the changing times, threatening to destroy a child's security and trust forever.
In Lahore, a city that has welcomed differences and encouraged variety, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus have mixed without incident. After the Partition, the dangers of alliance permanently stamp the mark of change and entire families begin to disappear overnight. In agonizing stages, Sidwha relates this tragic account through Lenny's eyes. And it is that vision, with glimpses of violence flashing around the periphery, that ultimately alerts Lenny to the shape of the future. The juxtaposition of family life and national chaos outlines an insider's interpretation of daily routine and a whole country spinning out of control. Peopled with eccentric characters and quirky personalities, one of the most romantic and beloved is Lenny's beautiful and desirable Ayah. Ultimately, the abrupt disappearance of that Ayah, who has been kidnapped by nefarious characters, is central to the theme of this carefully wrought tale.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mia on January 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was assigned this book for my english class, and wasn't looking forward to reading it. Although I chose the book myself, I wasn't really sure if I had made the right choice. However, once I started really getting into the book, I discovered that i couldn't put the book down-it was incredibly engaging! It showed me how cruel people could be, and the devastating concequences that came from their cruel actions. I found myself feeling happy when the character was happy, sad when the character was sad..etc..this book really opened my eyes to the world around me. This book is very moving and incredibly sad-it is rather graphic at times though. Nevertheless, this will forever be a favorite of mine and I definately recommend it.
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