Bapsi Sidhwa – Pakistan (-India-USA)

Bapsi Sidhwa (1938 – ) is an author of Pakistani origin who writes in English. She is perhaps best known for her collaborative work with filmmaker Deepa Mehta: Sidhwa wrote both the 1991 novel Cracking India which is the basis for Mehta’s 1998 film Earth as well as the 2006 novel Water: A Novel which is based upon Mehta’s 2005 film, Water. Background: Sidhwa was born to Parsi Zoroastrian parents Peshotan and Tehmina Bhandara in Karachi, Pakistan and later moved with her family to Lahore. She was two when she contracted polio (which has affected her throughout her life) and nine at the time of the partition of the subcontinent (facts which would shape the character of “Lenny” as well as the background for her novel Cracking India, originally titled, Ice Candy Man). She received her B.A. from Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore … (full text).

More bio on her website; on emory; on; on Bio and Research Guide.

… Sidhwa was a solitary and lonely child. Her parents were advised by doctors not to send her to school. She spent her time daydreaming and listening to stories told by servants. She writes about servant’s lives with such sympathy because she came to know their world, as a child, better than the society her parents moved in. A governess taught her to read and write and introduced her to Little Women which made a great impression … (full text).

Her official website Bapsi Sidhwa.


Bapsi Sidhwa – Pakistan (-India-USA)

Watch this video: The Pakistani Bride, 01.51 min.

… She has also been inducted into the Zoroastrian Hall of Fame. Cracking India, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, was made into the film Earth by internationally acclaimed director Deepa Mehta. It was also listed as one of the best books in English published since 1950 by the Modern Library …
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… Our creative genius in arts and literature has been recognised world over in people Faiz, Sadqain, Guljee, Bapsi Sidhwa, Tariq Ali and Hanif Kureishi … (full text).

Bapsi Sidhwa began her writing career at the age of 26 after visiting the Karakoram mountain-area of Pakistan with her husband. She was touched by a tragic story of a young girl who had been brought to one of the area’s tribes as a bride. After being there for a short time, the girl ran away from her husband’s home. The tribals considered this a highly dishonorable act. Some of the men hunted her down and murdered her. “When I came [back] to Lahore, the story haunted me,“ says Bapsi Sidhwa. “The girl’s story, the poor tribals, the way they lived, all [of] that I wanted to write about,” she adds … (full interview text).

Bapsi Sidhwa has won Italy’s Premio Mondello 2007 for Foreign Authors for her novel, Water … Water is based on the critically-acclaimed film of the same name, directed by Deepa Mehta. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Mehta and Sidhwa previously worked together on Earth, a film based on Sidhwa’s classic novel about the partition of India and Pakistan: Cracking India … (full text). /

Find her and her publications on; on Literary Encyclopedia; on SawNet bookshelf; on her website /books; on wikipedia /works; on amazon; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

The Google download book: Bapsi Sidhwa, By Randhir Pratap Singh, 2005, 98 pages.

Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India, The Traumatic Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, © Linsay Philippe-Auguste, Apr 30, 2008: Lenny, a young Parsee girl living in Lahore, witnesses first-hand the emotional turmoil and chaos caused by the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 … (full text). .

… Trauma of Partition: Interestingly, the story she’d carried inside her almost all her life — that of the terrors and traumas of Partition — was to emerge much later in 1988 — as The Ice Candy Man (published in the U.S. as Cracking India as “ice candy man” had colloquial connotations of a drug supplier) … It’s an immensely powerful book, written from a child’s point of view and based on Bapsi Sidhwa’s own terrified memories. As she writes in an essay for The New York Times of those times, “Yet the ominous roar of distant mobs was a constant of my awareness, alerting me, even at age seven, to a palpable sense of the evil that was taking place in various parts of Lahore … (And when) the dread roar of mobs has at last ceased, terrible sounds of grief and pain erupt at night. They come from the abandoned servants’ quarters behind the Singhs’ house… why do these women cry like that? Because they’re delivering unwanted babies, I’m told, or reliving hideous memories” … (full text).

She says: … “One cannot really remove an individual from his/her political or historical context. The Partition was one of the defining moments of our history, and the mass exodus and carnage affected millions of lives in the subcontinent. Unfortunately too little has been written about it in fiction. It is our history and shapes what we are today. Gandhi’s influence in moderating bias and injustice benefited the subcontinent in substantial ways … and: Religion is so subjective: I think we each mould it to suit our needs. I think religion appeals to what is noblest in humans. It has nourished and brought peace to us through the ages. It has also been misused by those in power to benefit themselves and wreak havoc in its name. In the subcontinent I grew up in one learned from infancy not to discuss it, and to respect other people’s religion … (full interview text).

… For Bapsi, who is best known in India for her book, The Ice-Candy Man, which was later made into a film, Earth, by Deepa Mehta, home means both Houston, Texas, where she now lives and Lahore, where she once lived … (full text).

She says also: … In different ways. I felt marginalized as a Parsi in a predominantly Muslim society: Some people, very few really, would say things like: “Can you be Pakistani if you’re Parsi?” Whereas, to Indians, I am a Pakistani. If I was a Parsi in India I don’t think I would have felt as marginalized-simply because there are so many Parsis there … and: It was my husband’s decision. He was an adventurous person and he wanted to do business in America, so we moved in 1983. I got my citizenship around 1992. In 1991, when Cracking India was published in America, I got a call from an editor in Minneapolis saying he wanted to shortlist the book for the “Editor’s Choice Award”. But when he discovered that I wasn’t American, he said I couldn’t qualify. We were both disappointed. That’s when I decided to become a U.S. citizen. I have dual nationality … and: As a woman, it has given me a tremendous amount of freedom. The sense of being able to just take off, on your own, without having to have company. In Pakistan and India, we tend to move in bunches and do things together, and you’re always part of a family, or a group. Here (in the US), you don’t carry so much baggage with you when you take off … (full interview text).

And she says: … There are thousands of women writers, journalists and poets in Pakistan. Writing is a solitary activity — it does not entail interacting with men, and as such is considered a suitable and even laudable pursuit. Of course there is the extremist element who are ready to take umbrage at what they consider to be “fawsh” or obscene, but luckily they are not given to reading fiction. I find quite raunchy stuff written even in Urdu. I am disappointed though that my books are not taught in colleges and schools because of this prudery … and:  Although Gujrati is my mother tongue, English is the only language I learnt to read and write in. It has become the dominant language and people in most countries are striving to learn it for commercial or scholarly benefit. It was perhaps among the better features imposed on us by the British. I have no problem incorporating the Punjabi, Parsi, or Pakistani idiom in my fiction … (full text).

more interviews on her website /interviews.

What happens when an impetuous sixteen year-old Pakistani girl leaves her homeland and wealthy family to encounter America? In An American Brat, novelist Bapsi Sidhwa lets lively teenager Feroza Ginwalla tell her own story and along the way explores the vagaries of two vastly different cultures. In an effort to reverse Feroza’s conservative views, which have been nurtured by Pakistan’s rising tide of fundamentalism, her parents send her to visit her uncle Manek in America. Manek is a graduate student at MIT, recently arrived from Pakistan himself. Her parents’ ploy works only too well, as Feroza embraces American culture. She enrolls in a university and plans to marry until family influence and differences in tradition erode that relationship. In this issue, we feature an excerpt showing Feroza on her arrival, with flashbacks to her life in Pakistan … (full text).


The Video: Charlie Rose – Salman Rushdie & Deepa Mehta / Brian Grazer & Malcolm Gladwell, 56.40 min, May 12, 2006;

Zoroastrian Association of Gretar New York ZAGNY (Homepage), and the book: the Pakistani Bride;

Wikipedia categories: Parsis; Ethnic groups in Pakistan; Pakistani social culture; Demographics of Pakistan; South Asian people; People by race or ethnicity; Zoroastrianism in India; Pakistani Zoroastrians.

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