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Can You Hear the Night...
Anita Rau Badami
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Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  494 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of a fragmenting Punjab and moving between Canada and India, Can you Hear the Nightbird Call? charts the interweaving stories of three Indian women – Bibi-ji, Leela and Nimmo – each in search of a resting place amid rapidly changing personal and political landscapes.

The ambitious, defiant Sikh Bibi-ji, born Sharanjeet Kaur in a Punjabi v
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Not Avail
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The author captures the various inflections points in India’s political history: the partition from Pakistan, the conflicts with its neighbours China and Pakistan, the separation of Bangladesh, the military invasion of the Golden Temple, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the brutal killings of Sikhs that followed, and finally the blowing up of Air India flight 182.

Entwined in these events are the stories of three women whose own lives are woven together by quirks of fate and twists of histo
What began as a somewhat hopeful book, quickly and devastatingly spiralled into a travesty. I was left with the shock of death and loss for all characters and after reading the novel I was angry at its historical injustices.

At the same time, I regretted investing emotional attachments to characters who were deeply flawed. My sense of the novel's downfall lay at the heart of the characters' weakness to pride.

From Harjot Singh's listlessness and "disappearance" long before he actually decided to l
Carolyn Gerk
I picked this book up knowing very little about it, thinking that it was the story of families coming to Canada from India, and their struggles to belong. I admit I didn't exactly research it, it was given to me by a friend, and I thought, hey, free book!

I was surprised to find out that it is primarily a historic account of the turbulent history of Punjab since the beginning of the 20th century. I know very little of the history of India's turmoil, I have heard pieces here and there but have not
This was a tragic story that kept my attention from beginning to end. The characters are flawed yet likeable, and it was the type of novel that left me thinking long after I had finished. This is a fictional account woven amid real historical events, so I learned a lot about India in the mid-80s...a period of time in which I was a teenager and blissfully unaware of some of the drama unfolding around the world. This book made me realize just how little I know of the modern histories of som many p ...more
Diana Lynn
Follows 3 women from the partition of India in1947 to the Air India bombing in 1985. From India to Vancouver their loves, family, hate, and the seeds of terrorism are explored without judgement. I gained an understanding of Sikhs especially that I wish I had been aware of before I visited India. The characters are fascinating, and their journeys, often heart-wrenching.
There are plenty of plot summaries available here, so I'll skip the details. The book covers the lives of three women, beginning in the 1920s in pre-Partition India and culminating in the mid-80s, with the explosion of Air Indian Flight 182, an event that most American readers likely don't know about or will have forgotten; I'd say the equivalent is Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie. So, this isn't a book with a happy ending, just in case you were wondering.

With three lives, two continents and six

"gantly moves back and forth between the growing desi community in Vancouver and the increasingly conflicted worlds of Punjab and Delhi, where rifts between Sikhs and Hindus are growing. In June 1984, just as political tensions within India begin to spiral out of control, Bibi-ji and Pa-ji decide to make their annual pilgrimage to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest of Sikh shrines. While they are there, the temple is stormed by Indian government troops attempting to contain Sikh
Sarah - Stuck in a Story
I had never heard of Can You Hear The Nightbird Call? until my professor for Reading and Writing Criticisms assigned it. Needless to say, it is a beautiful story that taught me so much about about the history of India that I knew nothing about, as well as Air India Flight 182 which I had never heard of until discussing it in class a bit before we read this book.
The three heroines followed in the story: Sharanjeet (a.k.a. Bibi-ji), Leela, and Nimmo all varied so much from each other. I greatly en
It was an okay read, not as good as Badami's other novel, which I recently read [tell it to the trees]. The time period is 1920s-1980s - a turbulent period for India - the struggle for freedom, achieving the same but at great cost, and the subsequent slow deterioration in Hindu-Sikh relationship. These events highly determine the fate of the characters. Bibi jee was born a beautiful, though penniless girl, with an ordinary looking ugly sister. She managed to change her fate by snatching her sist ...more
Somehow missed this one a few years back from one of my favourite Canadian authors. I really loved the story here - following a group of family and friends as some emigrate to Vancouver and some remain in India. The mostly Sikh characters are caught up in the conflict between India and Pakistan, as their historic homeland of Punjab becomes disputed territory. I was fairly familiar with the Air India bombing from media coverage, but really didn't understand the Indian side of that story. I loved ...more
I enjoyed the early part of this, i.e. Sharanjeet's childhood and I liked the story of how she and her husband's settled and made a success of their life in Vancouver. If ARB had stayed with that story and told it in depth I think I would have enjoyed the book more. But there's too many stories spread too thinly. "Visiting" the characters every few years meant that I didn't get to know or care about them. The Sikh character's - apart from Sharanjeet as a child - never seemed like real people (I' ...more
Like "The End of East", this book seems to be taking a cue from "The Jade Peony", only for the Indian set. This author wrote one of my favourite books ("The Hero's Walk"). That book featured cute dialogue and cute family dynamics but the cuteness was balanced throughout by the main character's self-destructive OCDisms. "Can You Hear the Nightbird Call", however, wasn't balanced out by a darker side, and the cutsiness became a bit over-the-top (and possibly insultingly stereotypical?) Then, at th ...more
After my love affair with 'Tamarind Mem' and 'Hero's Walk', I was really looking forward to Badami's third novel and immediately rushed out to buy the hardcover after it was published.
Surprisingly I found 'Nightbird Call' to be painfully short of her brilliant writing style. It is too mainstream in its prose when Badami's writing is quite poetic and sensitive.
Even though the backdrop of the story is a heartfelt reality of the Air India tragedy, it wasn't enough, I felt, to make it a good book. T
Susan H
An interesting glimpse into the lives of Sikh families living in Vancouver. It covers a 50 year span from the late 1940s to present day and includes the history and politics surrounding the political unrest in India that culminated in the Air India bombing in 1985. But it isn't a book about politics. It is a book about the women who try to look after their families during trying and sometimes scary times. It offers a cultural insight into the family life of Indo-Canadians and their families left ...more
The author tells the story of 3 Indian women. Two leave India to follow husbands seeking a better life in Canada. The third lives in India during the violence which involved the Partition of India and Pakistan, the religious violence in Punjab and the assassination of Indira Ghandi. The new immigrants to Canada are also affected by the events in India and the air India flight explosion. A well written book showing the struggles of new immigrants to find a place of belonging but still feeling tie ...more
I love books that give me insight into history and this one did that. I also love stories about women and their journeys - and this book is about three women and their journeys. I love stories about immigration and the quest for identity - I have never immigrated - just resided in a few countries for a couple years at a time - so am keenly interested in learning about the reality and struggle of immigration.

I have been in Delhi and Vancouver so the interplay between those two places was of great
This book is well worth reading for Canadians since it deals with the immigration of Sikhs from the Punjab area of India. It provides a glimpse into the lives of family members who stay in India and those who struggle to integrate into Canadian society. We also learn some of the modern history of the violence in the Punjab area touching on the invasion of the Golden Temple, Indira Ghandi's assassination and the ensuing revenge killings. It ends with the tragic 1985 Air India bombing.
Shonna Froebel
Ties together Indian religious history with the bombing of Air India flight 182. Follows a couple of families through the whole thing from 1938 to 1985.
Feb 16, 2008 Shona rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who feels they belong and wants to appreciate their good fortune
A great story with larger than life characters.
It tells of the hardships of Indians - particularly resulting from the partition of India and Pakistan. It shows what drives some to emigrate but how, even when they’ve achieved the better life they sought, they find it hard to totally integrate into their new world. Essentially they belong to 2 worlds and aren't 100% at ease in either.
It deals with tough subjects but is a joy to read.
The beginning of this book was hard to get through, but the end was much more interesting, if incredibly tragic and depressing. The book traced the lives of three women in India and Canada from the partition of India and Pakistan to the movement for an independent Sikh state. I know very little about the actual history, but I thought the book did a good job capturing the tragedy of religious violence.
Karen Stock
I really enjoyed this book. When it was introduced at our book club I thought it was going to be boring . But the book is very easy to read. I got into it right away. I didn't know much about INDIA so it was a good history lesson and not boring at all. There is violence in the book , but most of it is alluded to , its not really graphic so I like that.

I would recommend this book
This was an amazing novel. The book covers a lot of political/thematic topics. There's the independence of India and Pakistan, and the subsequent fighting in the Punjab and Kashmir regions, the transition of emigrating to a new country (Canada), and finally the Air India Flight 182 bombing. I'm very bad at summarizing books, so suffice to say, it was one of my favs last year.
A good book that got even betetr towards the the latter third. It made me cry in a few places but I think what worked for me was that I recall the events spoken of and so it become somewhat personal. What I really appreciated was the understanding I gained about the justified anger (but still unjustifable actions) of the Sikh community. Worth the read.
Fascinating read. Well written, gives insight into the history of India. The Sikhs and Hindus, and their struggle with each other. Also puts a very human face on the tragedy of the Air India Bombing in 1985. It starts in the 1960's when East Indians were immigrating to Canada, particularly to Vancouver. I highly recommend this book!
Jenny Lowell
This was another gripping story. I couldn't stop reading. It was a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Canadian immigrants from India and the life and family members that they leave behind. It was hard to read of the injustices faced by the Sikh community in India and Canada after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
This book did not captivate me until about two-thirds of the way through. I still feel the dialogue was not incredibly riveting. And I wish that not everyone either died or lost nearly their entire family. It was pretty depressing. But maybe Badami wanted her readers to feel the weight of the conflict in India at that time.
Tina Siegel
I really enjoyed this book. It's epic, in the history and geography that it covers, but manages to be intimate at the same time. The prose is lovely, too - very simple and clear and powerful because of it. The characters were engaging, too, though they did feel a bit like caricatures at points.
Nov 13, 2008 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I loved this book, beautifully written - but I'm a sucker for Can Lit anyway - and an excellent portrayal of the confilct in Post-Partition India and how that has influenced the immigrant communities in Canada (Vancouver)...and conversely how those communities influcence actions in India.
A remarkable book that touches on the very recent history of India. I learned so much from reading this novel, things that I should have known before but did not. The story itself is a trip through the lives of Sikhs with connections to Vancouver and to India. Very, very interesting.
The book presents factual events within fictional settings, maintaining the integrity of the reality without providing the author's bias. The work provides an opportunity to reflect on sensitive political issues from varied points of view. Well worth reading!
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“And as if he had read her thoughts, the old man murmured, 'What a blessing it is to die in your own bed, under your own roof, with your family surrounding you, full of the knowledge that you have lived as thoroughly as you wanted to.” 8 likes
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