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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa


Bapsi Sidhwa

Edited By Teresa Russo

This book is a collection of essays by international writer Bapsi Sidhwa gathered for the first time in one edition by Teresa Russo, with a foreword written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Landscapes of Writing: Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa provides a writer’s perspective on issues of South Asian literature, linguistics, poetry, and views of political events and globalization. In the first part of the book, Bapsi Sidhwa discusses her childhood, family life, and how she became a writer. There is also a revised essay detailing how her book Cracking India became a film by Deepa Mehta. The second part of the book focuses on her thoughts concerning war, terrorism, and how to achieve peace. This collection includes two letters, demonstrating her local and nationalistic perspectives to a larger view of an interconnected world.

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Chapter 5. Truth and Fiction


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· 5 ·


“If you’re looking for truth, read fiction; if you’re in the mood for fiction read autobiography.” I have heard something to this effect repeated so often that it has become a truism—and, paradoxically, the axiom is often dismissed as a witticism. But there is more accuracy in these words than first meets the eye.

As a writer, I know there are many ways of arriving at a truth, and fiction, with its accruements of imagination, intuition and arsenal of complex trajectories, can help a writer to express her or his thoughts as exactly and completely as is possible and in doing so arrive at the truth. Hard autobiography and biography, with their insistence on fact, appear to demand only one-dimensional slivers of truth, and whenever I’ve attempted autobiography I’ve sat frozen before my computer and wall-eyed with writer’s block.

In autobiography, there’s a tendency to speak well of oneself and to embellish that self with virtues. Also, mindful of the consequence of portraying one’s family and friends in an unflattering light, one dissembles, who doesn’t prefer to appear in a better light? While the “truth” is frequently a casualty of autobiography and of biography, one has to make allowances for those who would bend it somewhat to arrive at a larger truth. However, as one committed to a lifetime of writing fiction, I’d like to point out that it makes for a much...

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