Bookwatch: Preeti Gill shares her favourite books on Partition

By 19 Nov 2019

Preeti Gill, an independent editor and literary agent, shares her five favourite reads, including Partition stories, detective stories, and a novel on mental illness. 

Partitions of the heart: Unmaking the idea of India by Harsh Mander: There was one partition of the land in 1947 and in this book Harsh Mander writes of another partitioning. Are we to blame for this — there are a number of unsettling questions that the book asks and I liked this enormously because it makes you think about what is happening in our present day world, what are our responsibilities as part of civil society, and of a progressive majority?


The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy by Ishtiaq Ahmed: Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed writes about the Partition of Punjab, a subject close to my heart because I belong to a family that made its way from that side to this. The stories ring true, the heartbreak, the trauma, the tragedy are all of ours and of those like us.

A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge by Ambai: Ambai is such a great writer. These are the first of her detective fiction — delicious, delightful and dark. Her woman detective Sudha Gupta is the equivalent of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. I enjoy a good detective story! 

The Unsafe Asylum by Anirudh Kala: Again Partition stories of 1947 and of trauma and madness. Written by Anirudh Kala, a psychiatrist based in Ludhiana, the stories here are close to the bone. Was the partition something we left behind in the past or does it still cast a long shadow? These are powerful, unsettling stories.

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto: My all-time favourite book, this is a story told with gentle empathy, humour and love. It is a study of mental illness like you've never read and it unsettles you and moves you and makes you cry. This is a book you will never leave behind. 

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