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Cracking India

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,909 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Eight-year-old Lenny, spirited daughter of an affluent Parsee family, narrates the story of the breaking of India as she witnesses Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs fight for their land and their lives during the dividing of the country into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan in 1947. This 1991 Liberatur Prize winner, NYT Notable Book and ALA Notable nominee is now avail ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by Milkweed Editions (first published October 1st 1988)
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I'd never have read this book if it wasn't for what this idiot did:

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 th

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,
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 c ...more
Brutal. Honest. Raw. Visceral etching of human behavior.
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 real
Anushree Thareja
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. ...more
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
"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 Sidhwa

Those 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 becom
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.
Nicole Aswad
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.
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,
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
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
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 admi
sweet pea
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. m ...more
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 t ...more
Urja Gaurav
Such an incredible story. Personally, I have read and previously studied India's history but this book gave me an insiders point of view. I learnt a lot of things that I didn't know before. I loved seeing how Lenny's innocence and her obliviousness to the world and its problems fade away almost like her country's peace. Solid book in short.
It has been a few years since I read this novel but it's testament to Sidhwa's writing that I could probably still summarise every chapter.

The synopsis does not do this story justice. The use of a child narrator may seem like a mere plot device, but it is so much more. Lenny sees her world falling apart in the most mundane yet catastrophic ways. The reader will frequently suspect throughout the novel that the author experienced many of the horrific sights and sounds that Lenny and her family did
May 04, 2012 Narendra is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Claire S
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..
This is both historical and the portrait of a family with a few well-portrayed characters.

Although I already knew about what happened during the partition of India, it has more impact to read about it from the point of view of a child. This is why I read historical fiction.

I would have given this 3 1/2 stars if half stars were an option.


South Asian Diaspora writings are, to me, political mostly. They are perspectives against or for states, events, places and people . Ondaatjee's poetry is the kind of work I enjoy and relate more to. A kind of palimpsest , not dialogue, a mosaic not argument.
Still, no doubt Sidhwa's expertise of story telling, the biographical details bringing in the issues of trauma and memory and witness etc are some commendable features of the novel.
In comparison to The Pakistani Bride , the characters are mo
The narrator of the story, Lenny, is a child growing up in during the partition of Indian in Lahore, which is to become the capital of Punjab, Pakistan. Because of her childish knowledge of the world she is the perfect conduit for the reader, who learns of the atrocities taking place in Lahore and it's surrounding villages as they are witnessed by her. The main arch of the story is that of Ayah, her nanny, who is a Hindu woman serving a Parsee family. While pre-partition the many religious group ...more
Anil Swarup
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.
incredibly disturbing, a horrific portrayal of the violence of Partition through the lens of a child.

if you're looking for diverse book this is it: narrated by Lenny who is disabled and Parsee (ethnic minority).

it's about Lenny and her Ayah. her Ayah is so beautiful and has many admirers...of all religions until the eruption of violence then friends turn into enemies and the fate of the Ayah is one that destroys her.

this is the book which the movie Earth (Deepa Mehta) is based on.

also her Co
I liked this book b/c it delivers history in the framework of a wonderful story. You learn about Pakistan and what happened after India gained independence. What was it like living through this period?
I couldn't put this book down. I have read other books that talked about the partition, but I really feel that this had a fresh perspective and it was a very engaging read. I highly recommend it.
'Cracking India' was initially, published as 'Ice Candy Man', highlighting the one character who serves as a mirror to the constant fluctuations in the surroundings. The narration is engrossing, engaging and entertaining on many levels. Lenny's experiences and naive observations coupled with innocent questions both break your heart and make you smile. The book is as much a recounting of local and personal history, as it is the national history. The images of festivals and violence are alike in v ...more
Brajesh Jha
Beneath the tranquil surface of our social fabric lie the deep rooted prejudices created by class, religion, race and income inequality. Short-sighted political decisions can cause these prejudices to turn into daemonic forces and humanity is the first causality. This novel bring out this fact in all its brutal reality. It depicts the lives of ordinary people who suddenly find themselves thrown in the middle of a political decision that forces them to be on two different sides of a new national ...more
It happens that once in a while, you come across a book and realise that the movie was better. The Ice Candy Man is one of those books. I watched 1947 Earth and was delighted with it, so I wanted to read the book on which it was based. The story is about a Parsi family and the setting is during the freedom and Partition of India. The narrative is by Lenny, a young girl and the events are shown through her eyes.

The one thought that again and again intruded was that the content of this book is so
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Bapsi Sidhwa is Pakistan's leading diasporic writer. She has produced four novels in English that reflect her personal experience of the Indian subcontinent's Partition, abuse against women, immigration to the US, and membership in the Parsi/Zoroastrian community. Born on August 11, 1938 in Karachi, in what is now Pakistan, and migrating shortly thereafter to Lahore, Bapsi Sidhwa witnessed the blo ...more
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