Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cracking India” as Want to Read:
Cracking India
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cracking India

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,744 Ratings  ·  218 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
Paperback, 296 pages
Published January 23rd 2006 by Milkweed Editions (first published October 1st 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 11, 2008 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 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
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!’

Ice Candy Man (also known as Cracking India) 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,
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal. Honest. Raw. Visceral etching of human behavior.
Alissa Gundrum
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Oct 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*contains spoilers*
I was truly excited to read a book about the partition. However, this book was a colossal disappointment. Not only is the writing very vague and ambiguous (leaving you with a lot of '???'), but I also don't see how this is written from a child's perspective. The kind of observations Lenny makes, the very writing and use of difficult words, the actions this 'innocent' child does.
I mean, everyone has sex on their mind in this book, even the kids, more or less. Is India's overpop
Anushree Thareja
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 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 rated it did not like it
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.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It takes place in 1940s Lahore and is narrated by a young girl from an affluent Parsee family. We get to hear her perspective on the Partition of India - which is something I've never learned about from ANYONE'S perspective before. This novel inspired a lot of research and further learning by me, which is exactly what I'm always looking for in a book.

Lenny is looked after by her nanny, her Ayah, who is charming and strikingly beautiful. Men of all religions and ages are drawn to her. Therefore,
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hard-hitting novel about the Partition of India, as seen through the eyes of a young girl.

The story covers, roughly, the years 1943 to 1948 (As the story is told from a child’s perspective, we aren’t given dates. These have to be inferred from mention of world events). The central character, Lenny, is about four years old when the novel opens, growing up in Lahore in a prosperous family from the tiny Parsi (Zoroastrian) religious minority, but with her physical development affected by polio. I
Nicole Means
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the 'biggest lies' that of history is that the Greatest Migration of Hindus and Muslims between Pakistan and India was a peaceful event. History books wash over this migration as people moving from their homes and peacefully making a new life in a country where their religion was majority rule; this fabrication of history fails to capture the violence, murder, and forced evacuation that surrounded this "great" migration. Perhaps history books should change the name from "Great Migration" ...more
Ananya M
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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)
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-read
"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 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Or more accurately 1.5 stars to be exact. What do I say about this novel... If I hadn't been forced to read it, I would never have gone even 5 miles near it. Still an understatement. But in any case, it did have some redeeming qualities. The concept of stylistic fragmentation brilliantly resembled the thematic fragmentation of the chaotic plot and the perverse characters involved. What bugged me no end was the blatant use of sexual content mixed with a demeaning portrayal of female anatomy. Why ...more
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
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, india
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 is currently reading it
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 rated it really liked it
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..
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: Cracking India - Bapsi Sidhwa 1 12 Jul 26, 2014 07:25PM  
Open Books Chicago: Volunteer Review: Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa 1 7 Jul 27, 2012 08:52AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book Cover 4 27 Aug 13, 2011 04:51PM  
  • Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers
  • Bombay Time
  • The Sari Shop
  • Trespassing
  • A Golden Age
  • Desirable Daughters
  • Imaginary Maps
  • In the Convent of Little Flowers: Stories
  • Haunting Bombay
  • May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India
  • Clear Light of Day
  • Leaving India: My Family's Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents
  • Meatless Days
  • The Forbidden Daughter
  • Darjeeling
  • Salt and Saffron
  • Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag
  • What the Body Remembers
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
More about Bapsi Sidhwa...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future Is Selling Less of More
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Merlin's Tour of the Universe
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America
    $7.99 $1.99
  • At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself
    $11.99 $1.99