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Sawnet - Bookshelf -
is a Parsi who grew up in Pakistan. Educated at
home until age fifteen, she says from age eleven she "did nothing
but read books, starting with Little Women." She attended university
in the Punjab, married and had three children, now grown. Sidhwa began
writing as an adult after visiting an isolated, mountainous
region of India. There, gripped by a village tragedy involving a
runaway bride, she realized that "I just had to tell the story of this
woman, alone with God in the wilderness." Publishers, however, were
not appreciative, and her first two novels The Bride and
The Crow-Eaters languished unpublished. She eventually
published The Crow-Eaters privately in Pakistan, and its
success assured the enthusiastic publication of her other novels.
As a Parsee and being a
member of a small minority group, she feels she can see things
objectively. Her four published novels
reflect, she says, "my natural inclination to see the strong element
of humor even in tragedies."
She was on the advisory committee to
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Women's Development, and has been
awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan's national honour in the arts.
She lives in Texas, has taught at
Columbia U., Rice U., and U. Houston, and is currently
Writer-in-Residence at Mt. Holyoke.
Cracking India (published in the subcontinent as Ice-Candy
Man was made into a film by Deepa Mehta, and starred Amir Khan
and Nandita Das.
- About Bapsi Sidhwa
by Julie Rajan in Monsoon Mag
Milkweed, USA. Penguin, India. (2006)
- A novel written from the script of Deepa Mehta's Water.
Set in 1938, against the backdrop of Gandhi's rise to power, Water follows the life of eight-year-old Chuyia, abandoned at a widow' ashram after the death of her elderly husband. There, she must live in penitence until her death. Unwilling to accept her fate, she becomes a catalyst for change in the widows'lives. When her friend Kalyani, a beautiful widow-prostitute, falls in love with a young, upper-class Gandhian idealist, the forbidden affair boldly defies Hindu tradition and threatens to undermine the ashram' delicate balance.
- Sawnet Review by Jaya Tripathi
- Review by Jabberwock.
- Honoring the abandoned. Review in the Houston Chronicle.
- Water trickles in. The Hindu.
- An American brat
Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis. First published . (1995)
- Growing up in Pakistan in the 1970s, Feroza Ginwalla is precocious, impetuous, and increasingly affected by the rising tide of religious fundamentalism there. When her family decides to send her to America for a change of scenery and influence, a chain of amusing events and encounters ensues. She enrolls at a conservative Mormon college in Idaho, falls in love with a young man who is clearly not Parsee, and experiences her new country as only an immigrant can, even while her family worries that she is straying too far. A hilarious, touching and illuminating novel about a young woman caught between Pakistan and America.
- Sawnet Review by Visi Tilak, Lisa E.J. Lau
- Cracking India
Milkweed Editions. First published . (1992)
- "India is going to be broken. Can you break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is?" As the young daughter of an affluent Parsee family in Lahore, Lenny-- who is crippled by polio -- is keenly observant of the city?s astonishing diversity. As Lahore descends into sectarian violence due to the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Lenny's innocence is lost, and with it, the fragile unity of the subcontinent.
New Neighbours. Bapsi Sidhwa recalls Partition, in Time
Magazine. April 1997.
- Sawnet reviews of Earth,
Deepa Mehta's film of the book.
- The Pakistani Bride
Milkweed Editions (1984)
- Traveling alone from the isolated village where he was born, a tribal man takes an orphaned girl for his daughter and brings her to the glittering city of Lahore. Amid the pungent bazaars and crowded streets, he makes his fortune and sets up a home for the two of them. Yet, as the years pass, he grows nostalgic for life in the mountains. Impulsively, the man promises his daughter in marriage to a man of his tribe, but once she arrives in the mountains, the ancient customs of unquestioning obedience and backbreaking work make accepting her fate impossible.
- Sawnet Review by Prathim Maya Dora-Laskey
- The Crow Eaters
Milkweed Editions. (1978)
- Loading his pregnant wife, infant daughter, and widowed mother-in-law into a bullock cart, Faredoon Junglewalla -- Freddy for short -- leaves his ancestral village in the forests of central India, bound for the bustling city of Lahore. Despite the nagging of his unbearable mother-in-law, Freddy's business and family flourish, and he soon becomes a patriarchal figure in the thriving Parsee community. This endearing family saga provides a vibrant window onto life in India under British colonial rule, and a nation on the threshold of historic transformation.
- Sawnet Review by Shampa Chatterjee
South Asian Women authors