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The Pakistani Bride: A Novel

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,097 ratings  ·  91 reviews
As a youth, Qasim leaves his tribal village in the remote Himalayas for the plains. Caught up in the strife surrounding the creation of Pakistan, he takes an orphaned girl for his daughter and brings her to the bustling, decadent city of Lahore. Amid the pungent bazaars and crowded streets, Qasim makes his fortune and a home for the two of them. As the years pass, Qasim gr ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Milkweed Editions (first published 1983)
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Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ice Candy Man,also published as Cracking India is Bapsi Sidhwa's masterpiece.The rest of her books are nowhere near as good.

The Pakistani Bride (also published as The Bride) has something in common with Ice Candy Man.It starts off with partition riots.

Qasim,a man from the mountains adopts a young girl,Zaitoon,who is orphaned during the riots. When she grows up,she is married off to a man from the tribal areas.

The rest of the book is the story of her ordeal after her marriage.The title,The Pakist
Anum S.
Her terror of wild beasts drove her to seek the even more fearful nearness of man.

It’s hard to write a review for a book by Bapsi Sidhwa, mainly because she holds that venerable title of the first Pakistani English female writer (and how many people can claim to be the first of anything these days?), but also because she’s just so huge in the world of literature. In our part of the globe, where people treat reading as a passing fancy, Bapsi Sidhwa has dominated for years.

Reading the Bride felt,
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Bapsi Sidhwa takes you on an unforgettable journey into the tribal areas of Pakistan and leaves you with a range of emotions: awe at the majestic mountains, shock at the primeval conditions, fear for the protagonist and her piteous situation, and anguish at the brutality that women have to face on a day to day basis.

The story is about a child, Zaitoon, who is brutally torn apart from her parents on the eve of India-Pakistan independence and the aftermath of the bloody communal riots that follow
Divya Sharma
'The Pakistani Bride is a story of a girl named Zaitoon, who lost her parents in a very early age during Partition, and was adopted by a tribesman Qasim. They both start living with Nikka and his wife Miriam in Lahore. Since Qasim belongs from hills, living in plains is not at all easy for him. Increasingly getting nostalgic about his life in mountains, Qasim promises Zaitoon that he will marry her off to a boy from his own clan. But little did he realise that one decision of his would change Za ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The time which Sidhwa has portrayed, maybe women were treated that brutally then. I am a Pakistani, i told my dad i have to study and not get married. So i have always done what i wanted and i had the full support of my family....Having said that, i would like to say that THE PAKISTANI BRIDE is not a very reflective title, and it does not represent ALL of us. Women in Pakistan are much more confident now, but I would say that if we look at what is happening in Tribal area till this date, we cant ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
After reading "Other Voices, Other Rooms" I realized how little Pakistani fiction I had read, and what relatively little is available to Western readers. I was looking something covering a wider swath of the country written through the eyes of a Pakistani. This book fit that bill. During the Partition in 1947, Qasim, who has lost his wife and children joins refugees fleeing India for Pakistan. In the confusion of a train wreck, he comes across 5-year-old Zaitoon, who has hopelessly become separa ...more
Lara Zuberi
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took a long time to read this book. It may have been partly because it wasn't until the second half, that I felt gripped by the story. Through the second half, however, I felt the impact of this well-told tale, and it weighed heavy on me.
The story is about a young girl, zaitoon, who finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to a person from the mountains, and of a vastly different culture from her own. She attempts an escape once things become unbearable, and it is this escape through the
3.5 stars.
The story line was good and it had lots of potential but unfortunately, Sidhwa's prose was descriptive and short. There were no feeling put into it. This difference is noticeable if one compares Khaled Hosseini's writing to Bapsi Sidhwa's writing against the same backdrop.
One hears a lot about women oppression and feminism. But what this book tries to show is nowhere near that. It is the animosity and brutality that male dominance pose before women. It is unthinkable and horrific. Wom
Jan 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed in this book, especially since I enjoyed Sidhwa's other novels so much. The prose is lush and descriptive, but the book lacks a central focus. Until the last third of the story, the title character is only peripheral to the plot, and the focus is on her adoptive father. It shifts abruptly, and throws the reader into the bride's story without ever developing her character for the reader. There is also a brief focus on an American character. This may make sense for certain eleme ...more
Sara Khan
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'the earth is not easy to carve up. india required a deft and sensitive surgeon, but the British, steeped in domestic preoccupation, hastily and carelessly butchered it. they were not deliberately mischievous---only cruelly negligent!'

'lahore---the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu kings, the courtesan of Mogul emperors---bedecked and bejewelled, savaged by marauding Sikh hordes---healed by caressing hands of her British lovers.'

After reading my first book by Sidhwa, i am f
Nusrat Mahmood
The first half was very much enjoyable and the second half was just meh! or I'm in a very bad reading slump! :(
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: pakistani-reads
Wow! Where do I begin sharing my thoughts on this book?! There is much at play in this novel and having read reviews I almost reconsidered reading it myself. Eventually deciding against it, I was still bracing myself to read a disappointing novel. However, I'm glad I did read this or I would have surely missed out on an otherwise well-written book. While this novel is set in the years following shortly after the Partition of India and Pakistan and centred around Qasim (a Kohistanti man) and his ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
a very beautifully written book which describes the state of women in eastern countries. all has been said about on how it portrays pakistan in a bad light and women have all the freedom there. but i would love to see some intellectual souls seeing he book as a piece of literature.

here is a quote from the book: a beautifully written passage

"A knot of dancing, laughing children had circled an almost limbless beggar. Every time he succeeded in sitting upright the children playfully knocked him ove
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much. Lately I have been facinated with the culture, and this books displayed a new view on the religion and cultural values. I an beginning to have a understanding and appreciation for why things are the way they are.

I see that it didnt get great reviews from other goodreads members. I am not certain but I believe this book was written or published in the 80's and may have been translated based on some of the terms used.
Nov 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
I really wanted to like this book; it had so much potential! The storyline was good, but didn't even come in play until the last third of the book, and the ending was just disappointing. Reading about the experiences of these women though, it was terrifying to imagine that this could possibly be based on real lives, of real women; I cannot believe people live this way. Great cultural insight and perspective, just could have been written better.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting for the setting of Northern Pakistan around the time of partition, about the life of a young girl "adopted" by a bereaved migrating man and later sent back into the northern tribal territory. Not particularly well-written. Plot did not hold together well and writing was not that good and characters were one-dimensional but still interesting for the setting and time.
Pragya Bhatt
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off very slowly, but builds up momentum. I like the way the author has woven complex characters and tried to show that everyone has their own reality, yet are somehow connected to each other. I like that all her characters have shades of gray and the fact that she shows that you can find unexpected kindness even in the face of brutal adversity.
Jawad Khalid
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was all about sheer will power. It just proves that we build our own destiny. The imagery describing the Pakiatani North is exquisite. Sidhwa describes it just too well. Plus the novel provides an insight into the lives of Kohistani people. The sexual life and environment in Pakistan is also delineated quite well. An interesting read overall!
Emad Nadim
Easygoing style making this a quick read. Insightful and emotional especially when it comes to colossal tragedies in the most personal manner. Plenty of mini cliffhangers along the way as it builds to a somewhat predictable climax and kept me engaged all the way. Interesting human perspectives in the beginning about the way the India-Pakistan partition changed people so intimately.
Sharayu Gangurde
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I finished this novel late last night. It left me thinking for a long time about not just the time this was written in and about but when, being a Zaitoon and escaping the rugged mountain clutches meant death. Her courage was exemplary. For someone, who has had such simple dreamy expectations of a married life, who has never seen the other half of the world (and I know how strange that sounds as I compare it to 2019), this novel was an experience to read. I have not read Bapsi Sidhwa's earlier w ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-asian, poco
I really like Bapsi Sidhwa’s writing. This text was no exception. It provides a kaleidoscopic portrait of different parts and peoples of post Independence Pakistan; it can also be scathing in its critiques, depicting how the veneer of civilization is thin over a lurking, hideous violence.

The one part of the text that is confusing is Carol. Why does Carol exist and why is Carol in the book? She doesn’t really add anything, and she takes up several chapters with her naïveté and Orientalism, an ug
Sarah Zaidi
Nov 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There was absolutely no need for the beginning to drag on as long as it did. The book could've started off with her being told of her arranged marriage in the second chapter, instead of half-way through the book. The first chapter could've told about her dad and their neighbors moved on with their lives after the tragedy of partition, and how she grew up. That whole sub-plot didn't need 90+ pages. The title of the story is "The Pakistani Bride," and thats what the focus should've been. The whole ...more
Mustafa Bilal
Anger dominates the book. It sweeps above the narrative, holding everything under it's sway. It's the sharpest and pointiest jab at an impenetrable institution. Sensuous, ragged, repressed, cruel - a potion of the most bitter elixirs conveys a hopelessness through words and images that bite. Strongly stereotypical, the book holds an agenda that is visible in every nook and cranny of the narrative. Even with that and perhaps because of that, it emerges triumphant. A powerful work.
Mahak Gambhir
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, fairly well written, totally worth a read.
Character development is weak, but is somewhat compensated by the steady flow in the plot. The end seems rushed and a little too far-fetched, and some episodes highly unnecessary and boring. Yet the attempt to portray the many aspects of tribal as well as urban life in Pakistan is highly appreciable.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been traveling to Gilgit and Hunza through Kohistan and I am always blown away by the horrific stories these mesmerizing mountains hide within. Not much has been changed since the time this novel was published, 10 years and we still hear the stories of w omen being killed in the name of honor and for what not. For some strange reasons I could relate to Zaitoon. The experience of reading this book might be different for different readers but for me it was so personal.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pakistan, south-asia
I love this authors stories - one can feel her intrinsic knowledge of Pakistan - it is not just a story she has heard from others there is an element that is only captured if one has lived in a place and knows it in their heart. I especially loved the exploration women within the cultural contexts of Pakistan and how they resist and find their way.
Shylashree Chikkamuniyappa
The book started out great and liked her writing style but hated the way the story ended. Qasim, a Khosthani tribal who lost his family and raises an orphan finally seems like a butcher taking Zaitoon as the sacrificial goat back to his home and leaving her there with strangers. Terrible !!!
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good until the end. The ending was downright crappy, it was like Bapsi was running out of space, so she left the main protagonist hanging, and all of us scratching our heads. Although, since it's Bapsi Sidhwa, I cannot bear giving her anything less than 3 stars.
Bill Berger
Bapsi Sidhwa’s books have a tendency to show the plight of the Pakistani women as they try to survive in their day to day life. An excellent writer, I admire her oeuvre very much and recommend her books to anyone with interest in the sub-Continent.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal & unflinching story of Pakistan Partition era & young girl caught up in arranged marriage to (Afghani) tribesman. First time I have read this author- she deftly takes us out of American bubble & life as we know it. ...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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