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 working class characters that Lenny learns about religious differences, religious intolerance, and the blossoming genocidal strife on the eve of Partition. As she matures, Lenny begins to identify the differences between the Hindus, Moslems, and Sikhs engaging in political arguments all around her. Lenny enjoys a happy, privileged life in Lahore, but the kidnapping of her beloved Ayah signals a dramatic change. Soon Lenny’s world erupts in religious, ethnic, and racial violence. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the domestic drama serves as a microcosm for a profound political upheaval.
About the author
Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Lahore, Bapsi Sidhwa has been lauded as “Pakistan’s finest English-language novelist.” Sidhwa is the author of four novels: The Bride, Crow Eaters, An American Brat, and Cracking India (Ice-Candy-Man), which was a New York Times Notable Book, nominated by the American Library Association as Notable Book, and won the LiBerature Prize in Germany in 1991, and was made into the award-winning film Earth by Indian director Deepa Mehta in 1999. Sidhwa was the recipient the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest honor in the arts in 1991, and was inducted into the Zoroastrian Hall of Fame in 2000. She has been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, and the Bunting Fellowship from Radcliffe, amongst other honors. Her novels have been published abroad in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy. She has taught at several universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Though she now resides with her husband in Houston, Texas, Sidhwa travels often to Pakistan, seeking the inspiration of Lahore and working as an activist for women’s and minority rights. Contributor residences (city, state or country if outside the US or Canada): Houston, TX
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