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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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Introduction: Bapsi Sidhwa’s Contributions to South Asian Literature


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Bapsi Sidhwa’s Contributions to South Asian Literature

Teresa Russo

Bapsi Sidhwa’s Legacy as a Writer and Activist

When Bapsi Sidhwa’s The Crow Eaters, a fiction about Parsi life, was published in 1980 Sidhwa was instantly thrust into a spotlight for her use of good humor, farce, and irony to highlight the idiosyncrasies of the Parsi community.1 In the introduction to the 2015 reissue of The Crow Eaters, Fatima Bhutto, the author of Songs of Blood and Sword, writes, “Sidhwa is often described as Pakistan’s finest novelist writing in English and rightfully so. It is her warm, gregarious style that parts the curtains and allows us entry into an older subcontinent, a more complete one” (6). Indeed, Sidhwa presents an older South Asia in The Crow Eaters that is set in the 1930s in India before Partition, recounting the ancient history of the Parsi community with the arrival of the Parsis from Iran to India in 766 (The Crow Eaters, 2006: 13). Sidhwa intertwines the historical with fiction to memorialize a minority group: “Of the sixteen lands created by Ahura Mazda, and mentioned in the 4,000-year-old Vendidad, one is the ‘Septa Sindhu,’ the Sind and Punjab today” (14). She also describes the symbolism of the garments that signify the faith of the Zoroastrians and the ceremonies of the Zarathusti faith performed in Punjab and Sind. She explains the ethnic elements of a Parsi Zoroastrian community ← xv...

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