The Other Side of Silence: A Novel


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Voices from the Partition of India

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By Muriel Dobbin - - Thursday, March 24, Please read our Comment Policy before commenting. A very hard read as there were so many painful stories. Apr 21, Atharv G. Urvashi Butalia conducted interviews with people affected by the Partition of India, including a family connection that ended up being the most fascinating story in the collection, in my opinion. I appreciated how Butalia interwove the interviews with her analysis. Having the context and significance of the interview immediately at hand added to the experience and made the whole book flow better.

By focusin 4. By focusing on the communities whose voices were often not heard women, children, and untouchables , Butalia challenges the traditional narratives of who was affected by Partition, showing the deep differences and subgroups of those categorized as "Hindu," "Muslim," and "Sikh. Oct 14, Shakthi rated it really liked it. The author has done justice to the characters in the book by not merely translating their stories of partition, she has retained the essence and feelings of partition in their own words.

This book is a beautiful work of oral historiography. I like how she alienates herself and presents the facts which are most often ghory and painful in a very matter of fact way. When our history books stop with Independence and partition this book brings out the other side of the silenced history the story of t The author has done justice to the characters in the book by not merely translating their stories of partition, she has retained the essence and feelings of partition in their own words.

When our history books stop with Independence and partition this book brings out the other side of the silenced history the story of the unheard, unseen and unfelt. This is the story that is hid behind the silences of our history books. Silence and speech.

Memory and forgetting. Pain and healing. They are the heart of this book about Partition of Punjab. It uses silence and words - of men, women and children - to decipher the voices of partition: how rape and abduction turned into valor and heroism, how victims as well as aggressors were all survivors, how some memories were kept alive to forget others, how the violence 'out there' turned into violence inside of people, how the social hierarchy and rituals of Partition in India Silence and speech.

It uses silence and words - of men, women and children - to decipher the voices of partition: how rape and abduction turned into valor and heroism, how victims as well as aggressors were all survivors, how some memories were kept alive to forget others, how the violence 'out there' turned into violence inside of people, how the social hierarchy and rituals of Partition in India still exist - such that after more than 70 years we haven't come to terms with our own history.

Mar 27, Raad rated it it was amazing. Disturbing, and necessary, like all of Butalia's work. As good now as it was 15 years ago. It helped me to pose difficult questions about Partition to my own fam. And I'm glad I did. When my aunt died a few years ago, my cousin contacted me about her experiences, saying it was the only documentation of her mother's journey in a bullock cart, hidden under hay for four days.

If Butalia's book had not existed in seeking out Partition stories in Punjab, I would have never been inspired to quiz peopl Disturbing, and necessary, like all of Butalia's work. If Butalia's book had not existed in seeking out Partition stories in Punjab, I would have never been inspired to quiz people about the Bengal side. Thank heavens for this book.

Apr 10, Hadley McCollester rated it really liked it. Read this book for my sociology class called Collective Memory and Storytelling. Although I was aware, at least peripherally, of the violence and trauma incurred during the partition of the Indian subcontinent, this book changed my perspective entirely. She asks the questions that we are all thinking, even if she does not have the answers.

Dec 29, Reena rated it it was amazing. Outrageous, blindingly honest and brave beyond comparison. Feel like I paid much needed attention to this lacuna of history and the urgency of this work a little late in life Such is life I guess. Jun 23, Chetan rated it really liked it. Otherwise, came to know some unknown and shocking facts or stories about partition. The subject of the book is interesting, but I didn't like the writing style of the author.

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There is a lot of repitition and redundancy in the essays. Jan 29, Nimitha T. An important read. The author's sensitivity, knowledge and feminist sensibilities were the highlights of my reading experience. I especially liked the parts dedicated to women, children, dalits and their experience of the partition. Very moving accounts of people who'd struggled through the partition of India and Pakistan. But then. Oh, and it needs an editor. Now, the interviews of people who'd actually been there will move you and make you think beyond the contents of your history textbooks.

This book goes deep into the partition's consequences, the ones that we haven't been taught in high-school. Most of these accounts have been overlooked rather deliberately. Women were raped, children we beheaded, men w Very moving accounts of people who'd struggled through the partition of India and Pakistan. Women were raped, children we beheaded, men were killed. Parents had to kill their own children and brothers and sisters. Women were persuaded to push themselves into wells and kill themselves.

Children lost and never found. Wives lost and then found, only to see them settle with other men, under obligation. You'll find a lot of unsettling things, but these are true. The author is admittedly a feminist and so more than half of the book deals with how women weren't cared about and played around with, even though it was women who made the most sacrifices. The war between Hindus and Muslims and even Sikhs : you'll understand how much the beginning wars are relevant now. These are the subjects that make the book readable. Yes, there I said it. The problems with the book isn't the content but the prose and structure.

The author's writing isn't clear. It's bad, the prose is just bad, so bad that it overshadows the first-hand accounts of people, which is what the book is about. Most sentences are just abstract words thrown between periods. Sentences are repeated all throughout the book, exact sentences. The author keeps saying the same things over and over again, as if the reader has problems registering the ideas in a single go. Usage is weak. And sentences are over-punctuated and under-edited. Seriously, this book can be half its size and still have the same effect. The structure of the book is strange, too.

Some accounts are repeated within a few pages. Some of the dialogues of the people should be cut because they have no effect as sentences, they're just redundant. The book looks like a first draft that took a long time to write. And yes, one might say that since it's a non-fiction book, the prose-style doesn't really matter.

But it does, because you still have to read the sentences to get the ideas and at least have a glimpse of what those people felt at the time. And if the prose is bad, it renders the recorded experiences weak. It's almost unfair. The writing is supposed to do justice to the pain and anguish, not debase it.

But yeah, this is a book all right if you're looking to expand your horizons on Indian history. You'll definitely think about the partition in more thoughtful ways than you did before.

The Other Side of Silence: A Novel

It's a different perspective than we've been conditioned to have. And let me tell you, it would behoove you to have that new outlook. Oct 19, Mishica rated it it was amazing. An amazing book Well researched, thought and precisely written I am neither a researcher nor a scholar on partition, neither i intended or had any specific interest in reading about partition especially women.

I got introduced to the book through some newspaper reading and thought of giving it a try and i thank myself for having picked this book. After reading, my views on partition has changed. It is far beyond what is taught and discussed. The realities of partition are quiet different An amazing book The realities of partition are quiet different from the ones taught in school textbooks. Very less is written about women on partition and this book is one of the few which talks about women during 'that' time. The account of partition survivors are horrific, with the author giving minutiae interpretations of sufferings, anguish and pain of the survivors, fills my heart with grief and agony.

It was hard to read certain pages especially mass suicide by women to save their honor and religion and i can't imagine what the author went through while interviewing survivors. My thanks to the author for writing this book and introducing us to the 'other' aspects of partition. Apr 07, Neeti rated it liked it. The content of the book is indeed great as it includes personal interviews of the people from the time of partition.

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However, there's too much of repetion, which is a put off. Also, the book could've been written in a much better way than it is in terms of sequencing and avoiding overlapping. Sep 10, Khitkhite Buri added it Shelves: partition-lit , rise-of-hindu-right , nationalism. Butalia herself, writing after tells us that there is no end to work on the Partition.

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What she found was dry and terse official denial of the genocidal violence, the academic top-down history. But the 'new' studies I find on the Partition are an attempt to write the violence into the narrative with such broad strokes that the violence becomes a tautology. I refuse to read about partition in order to understand 'communalism' today. The current work on Partition is often like this - as if tra Butalia herself, writing after tells us that there is no end to work on the Partition. The current work on Partition is often like this - as if trauma can only be expressed through a forced evocation, through an uncritical, unself-conscious narrative structure.

I don't like work that uses words interchangeably. I don't like work that runs the risk of epistemic violence and offers moral platitudes 'I didn't push when they didn't want to speak' , and then calls the history 'personal'. Why offer memory as a binary to history why indeed , why offer 'feminist historiography' if you have accepted history as unchanging, as if it had no relation to time? Dec 11, aswin rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Apart from tracing her own family's encounter with partition, Urvashi Butalia brings out the voices of those participants who very often go unheard - women, children and Dalits.

While partition is the single event what connects the oral histories, the prejudices that they highlight are by no means confined in time or space. For example, a tendency to use 'honour' as an excuse to effectively rob women of agency is by no means just a thing of the past. The interviews that speak to this specific t Apart from tracing her own family's encounter with partition, Urvashi Butalia brings out the voices of those participants who very often go unheard - women, children and Dalits. The interviews that speak to this specific tendency are some of the most unsettling of what is on the whole, a deeply disturbing book.

This is a hard Feb 07, Garima Poonia rated it really liked it.

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Any history of the Struggle of India's Independence as well as it's partition is incomplete without this book. We have grown up knowing too little. Apr 23, Havovi rated it it was amazing. This is a must read.

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For the sheer honesty of the project and the way in which the struggles to draw the lines between public history and private memory have been shared with the reader. For those of us who are interested in what qualifies as 'data', 'truth', 'reality'; for those of us interested in the many stories that got left out from the histories of partition of Pakistan and India; for those of us who believe that memory too is history, and history is memory Jun 17, Sonya rated it it was amazing.

Butalia has beautifully woven so many tragic, and often brutal ones, into the partition narrative. This oral history makes a huge HUMAN contribution to the rather broader and more clinical accounts of And the stories of women, raped and abducted, erstwhile untold in some depth, reflect - big surprise - the deeply patriarchal nature of our societies. And then there are the children, the Harijans, and etc.

A must read.


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  • Jul 22, Manu Kanchan rated it really liked it. A good book, tells about the unheard stories of people.

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    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel
    The Other Side of Silence: A Novel The Other Side of Silence: A Novel

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