Author: Alok Bhalla
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195677420
The partition of India, and the trauma that followed, led literatures of the subcontinent to write poignantly of the horror and pain of this colossal uprooting of people in modern history. In an invaluable addition to the genre of Partition literature, Alok Bhalla explores the concept of boundaries and homes through his interviews with six well-known novelists from Indian and Pakistan.
In conversations with Intizar Husain, Krishna Sobti, Bhisham Sahni, Krishna Baldev Vaid, Kamleshwar, and Bapsi Sidhwa, Bhalla invokes their personal experiences and memories of the years around 1947; their families in pre-Partition India; their Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh neighbours; their ideological shifts; their difficult days of survival amidst the carnage, and the impact of Partition on their writings. These interviews suggest new ways of reading and interpreting Partition fiction and the politics of religious identities which continues to torment us even today.
The introductory essay explores the many human concerns of Partition fiction, including the desire to find ways of living with the memories of the experience. Bhalla analyses the work of several Indian and Pakistani writers-Badiuzzaman, Rahi Masoom Raza, Saadat Hasan Manto, Qurratalain Hyder, Joginder Paul, Abdus Samad, Bapsi Sidhwa, Intizar Husain, Khadija Mastur, Yashpal, Attia Hosain, and others-to touch upon issues like migration, threat to peoples’ religious beliefs, as also recollections of lost homes, abandoned cultures, and betrayed traditions. This book will interest general readers, students, and researchers in politics and society, South Asian literature, and social history.
When my critics object and tell me that I am obsessed by the experience of the partition, trapped in it, my response is that what happened in 1947 was so complex, so devastating, that I have yet to understand it fully. How can I get away from it?
It is not that the people who protected us were non-communal. They could be very rabidly communal. But not with us. They protected us because when it came to their neighbours, a different value system prevailed.
Fiction about the partition in India and Pakistan has made an attempt, despite the enormity of the horror it describes, to preserve essential human values.
The only way to deal with the facts of the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims is to confront them, not seek to abolish them, hide from them.
-Krishna Baldev Vaid
It is important for people to think about the land to which they belong; to the civilization of which they are a part. Only an imaginative writer can feel the sorrow of being uprooted from such a soil, and such a civilization.
We, Indians and Pakistanis alike, are always emotionally involved in our politics, I should add that politics in the subcontinent touches each person’s life.
Memories of a Lost Home
Some Reflections on Partition Fiction
Partition, Exile, and Memories of a Lost Home
In Conversation with Intizar Husain
Tamas and the Landscape of Memories
In Conversation with Bhisham Sahni
Memory and History
In Conversation with Krishna Sobti
Self-Reflections in a Broken Mirror
In conversation with Krishna Baldev Vaid
The Spell of Religious Identities in Kitney Pakistan
In Conversation with Kamleshwar
Grief and Survival in Ice-Condy-Man
In conversation with Bapsi Sidhwa