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Cracking India

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  3,377 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
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 wo ...more
nookbook (ebook), 0 pages
Published January 23rd 2006 by Milkweed Editions (first published October 1st 1988)
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Mar 11, 2008 Seanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Asghar Abbas
Jan 04, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Sidhwa is definitely one of my favorite, favorite Pakistani writers. She is an inspiration, truly. But this is a harrowing and a very grim novel. Though it is arguably one of the best, if not the best work, on this theme, it is still bitter to read despite its excellence, or maybe because of it. It reveals all the raw wounds that are still fresh, without reflecting much on the healing part, but how do you heal from the wounds you inflicted yourself? The hand that had cut your skin and sliced you
Anum Shaharyar
There is much disturbing talk. India is going to be broken. Can one break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is?
I ask Cousin.
‘Rubbish,’ he says, ‘no one’s going to break India. It’s not made of glass!’

Cracking India (also known as Ice Candy Man) is one of those novels that 16-year-old Anum (more interested in North American YA, not that there’s anything wrong with reading a particular genre as long as one matures enough to eventually give other genres and author nation

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,
Apr 07, 2007 Jennie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 13, 2010 Marcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2015 Sweety rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal. Honest. Raw. Visceral etching of human behavior.
Anushree Thareja
Jul 31, 2014 Anushree Thareja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2009 OMalleycat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Misha Husnain Ali
Dec 16, 2011 Misha Husnain Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-2012
The prose is a bit lacking, but the story is powerful enough to overcome it for me. I was genuinely upset by this book and the matter of fact way it deals with the tragedy unfolding.

Some of the more upsetting things in this book are just the everyday exposure of a child protagonist to lust, even dangerously close to attempted rape near the end. I found the ending more satisfying than the movie ending.
Nicole Aswad
Oct 29, 2011 Nicole Aswad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 05, 2016 Paige rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after hearing the author read and speak on a panel. She was delightful, and I wish I had time to binge read her novels. This one is full of wit and pathos, populated with people who manage to be both familiar and intriguing. A heartbreaking and fascinating slice of history with continuing ramifications today. I'll go back to Bapsi Sidhwa as a treat for myself.
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
Erika B. (SOS 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
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,
Feb 10, 2014 Tilly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Anil Swarup
Aug 01, 2013 Anil Swarup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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..
Urja Gaurav
Nov 10, 2014 Urja Gaurav rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 02, 2007 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pakistan, hf
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?
Gina Whitlock
Jul 01, 2016 Gina Whitlock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A child's account of the violence and religious intolerance that resulted from India's partition. A great coming-of-age novel at times funny, sad and tragic.
Jun 03, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 20, 2016 Mehvish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A splendid amalgamation of coarse mockery of Parsee family life and the blatant horrors of the 1947 riots.
Deepali Jain
Nov 13, 2016 Deepali Jain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A partition novel. You must be thinking, why I wrote these 3 words and a period. Each partition novel can leave you shake till the core. But when it comes from a minority, you go on thinking about their plight. The pain of reading it, is massive. Each sentence takes you by blow. When you see through the eyes of a kid, the pain becomes unbearable. Every second you read the book, it will tear you up. Every partition novel is same when it comes to describe the plight, yet every novel/every piece of ...more
Hamza Khan
Feb 16, 2017 Hamza Khan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-literature
Enjoyed reading the various elements of partition from the perspective of a young girl. It was also interesting to see how partition had affected individuals on a micro scale ( the way it changed general conversations in the park) and how it transformed strong bonds that were not constructed on religion or race but eradicated through them. I was also able to construct a vision of Lahore prior to partition, through this book. Lahore has always been recognised for its culture and atmosphere and th ...more
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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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