The 1947 Partition of India is the backdrop for this powerful novel, narrated by a precocious child who describes the brutal transition with chilling veracity. Young Lenny Sethi is kept out of school because she suffers from polio. She spends her days with Ayah, her beautiful nanny, visiting with the large group of admirers that Ayah draws. It is in the company of these working class characters that Lenny learns about religious differences, religious intolerance, and the blossoming genocidal strife on the eve of Partition. As she matures, Lenny begins to identify the differences between the Hindus, Moslems, and Sikhs engaging in political arguments all around her. Lenny enjoys a happy, privileged life in Lahore, but the kidnapping of her beloved Ayah signals a dramatic change. Soon Lenny’s world erupts in religious, ethnic, and racial violence. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the domestic drama serves as a microcosm for a profound political upheaval.
I had to read this book for my honors course on Southeast Asia. I’m glad that I had the chance to read it, because I had never heard of it before.
- Bapsi Sidhwa’s writing. She is really talented.
- It covers a big part of India’s history. It does so in a way that really connects the reader to the story, even if they don’t know the full extent of what was involved in the Partition before reading. It is also very brutal at times and doesn’t hide any of the violence.
- The companion movie, Earth. It’s definitely worth checking out. We watched part of it in my class.
- I honestly found it hard to get into. It took a while for the book to pick up pace after the beginning. I felt invested for a chapter or two, then it didn’t keep my attention again until the very end. Because of that, I’m giving it two stars. I like for a book to keep my attention. I think that maybe if I had picked it up on my own to read instead of having to read it for a course while overloaded with homework in other courses at the same time, I might’ve enjoyed it more.