Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel Cracking India follows the political upheaval of the Indian independence movement and the division of India and Pakistan through the eyes of a child in Lahore, one of the contested regions. The early life of the central character is a fascinatingly jumbled portrait of diversity and community that ignores boundaries potentially created by religion. As she grows up, and the country becomes far more divided, her awareness mirrors the divisions and breaking of the country.
This is a fascinating piece of political fiction and personal fiction. All the characters seemed intensely real, as though they were people remembered instead of invented, and the confusion over the divisions of countries and former friends and neighbors felt all the more real while reading because of it.
Most of the literature about this period that I have read in the past has been focused on adults and people who were higher in the political order. This novel shows the perspectives of normal people, present in the moment of collapse and facing the consequences of political decisions that they had no sway over. Overall, I would highly recommend Cracking India as part of a curriculum focused on the voices of the people during political turmoil.
Reading Level: High school and up
Pair With: Narratives of revolution and political upheaval from the voices of the people