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Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?
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Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  707 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? tells the stories of three women, linked in love and tragedy over a span of fifty years, sweeping from the Partition of India and Pakistan to the explosion of Air India flight 182 off the coast of Ireland in 1985. There is Bibi-ji—who steals the heart of her sister’s fiancé and goes with him to Vancouver, where they become pillars of the Si ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Not Avail
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Jan 17, 2010 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Zara Garcia-Alvarez of The Bibliotaphe Closet Blog
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
Mar 20, 2011 Carolyn Gerk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 29, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2013 Diana Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shawn Mooney
Oct 22, 2016 Shawn Mooney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
A sweeping narrative of the lives of three Indian women whose lives in Punjab, Delhi and Vancouver gather within the embrace of family, faith, community and friendship yet shatter beneath the fist of hatred and violence. An imperfect, at times somewhat disjointed novel that throbs with feeling. I was heartbroken open.
Kathy Stinson
Feb 08, 2017 Kathy Stinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learned lots I didn't know about India in this book but its greatest appeal lay in the gripping story of a wonderful cast of characters, some loveable, some not, spanning decades and continents.
Amrit Chaitanya
May 28, 2017 Amrit Chaitanya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An awesome read. The author skilfully drives you across various timelines set amongst tumultuous events ranging from pre to post partition India.
Sarah - Six Blue Marbles
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
Jul 26, 2013 Mab rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, borrowed
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
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"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
Jan 03, 2015 Geeta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 24-in-2015
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
This book starts in the 1920s in India when Sharan is a child. As she gets older, she is the more beautiful of the two sisters, but her mother won't marry her off until her sister gets married first. So, Sharan steals the man meant for her sister and he brings her to Canada. The book follows Sharan and her husband in Vancouver, but also jumps forward in time and follows her niece Nimmo when she grows up and has a family in India. A third main character, Leela, also comes to Vancouver from India. ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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
Mar 31, 2011 Dhali rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2008 Tas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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
Aug 16, 2012 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Deanna McFadden
Aug 10, 2015 Deanna McFadden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book--whoa, it caught me completely off guard. I spent my week at the cottage with zero reading expectations, and wanting to read from the pile of novels that are collecting dust in our bedroom. I finished a couple, and moved on to this book--a holdover from when I worked at Random House a decade ago, almost. And I got swept away completely. I wasn't aware of so much of the history in this novel--the divisive, complex history that creates the backdrop for the interwoven story of three women ...more
Naheed Hassan
An interesting read which sheds light on Sikh culture and history. The story is primarily that of Sharan, a pretty, headstrong girl who steals the groom intended for her sister and makes her way to Vancouver in Canada. She becomes Bibi-ji, beloved of her husband, manager of his shop and the epitome of immigrant success. However, she is haunted by the past - how she cheated her sister f a husband and a life away from their village. Bibi-ji is the most strongly drawn character and if the author ha ...more
Dec 31, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan H
Nov 17, 2007 Susan H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-authors
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
Feb 16, 2008 Shona rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Mar 24, 2011 Alida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jenny Lowell
Sep 20, 2011 Jenny Lowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen Stock
Feb 19, 2011 Karen Stock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Individual stories stringed together in the backdrop of partition and emigration of Indians to Canada. Adopts several stereotypes and builds on them. Subsequent historical events are also woven in the story-line. It seemed to be more relevant to Indian sensibilities rather than involving global emotions. The end left me feeling bereft and saddened.
Aug 08, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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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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