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Partitions: A Novel [Paperback]

Amit Majmudar

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Book Description

July 3 2012
"Unforgettable." --Boston Globe
 
As India is rent into two nations with the creation of Pakistan, communal violence breaks out on both sides of the new border and streaming hordes of refugees flee from blood and chaos.
 
At an overrun train station, Shankar and Kenshav, twin Hindu boys, lose sight of their mother and go in search of her. A young Sikh girl, Simran Kaur, has run away from her father who would rather poison her than see her defiled. And Ibrahim Masud, an elderly Muslim doctor, limps toward the new Muslim state of Pakistan, rediscovering on the way his role as a healer. A dramatic, luminous story of families and nations broken and formed, Partitions, "written with piercing beauty, alive with moral passion and sorrowful insight, [is] a rueful masterpiece" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

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Review

“A superb fiction debut ... particularly welcome. This novel will make you angry and sad, as it should; it will also leave you with a heightened sense of sympathy and hope for all people on both sides of an arbitrary border.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Unforgettable.”
—The Boston Globe

“Heart-wrenching.”
—New York Post

“Shimmering prose... and a poignant surprise ending.”
—The Seattle Times

“This first-time novelist has helped us to travel that brief but crucial distance, from words on the page to dreams in our minds and hearts, and made this bitter, brutal time somehow reachable.”
NPR, All Things Considered

“Eloquently shares its author’s humane insights… A worldly meditation on the violence that occurs because of the necessary yet artificial partitions between individuals.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“A dazzling narrative... Amit Majmudar’s exceptional debut brilliantly captures India at its most turbulent.”
—Daily Mail (UK)

“A greatly human dramatization of the persecution each religious group experienced at the hands of the others... Poignant but never maudlin.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Magnificent... Written with piercing beauty, alive with moral passion and sorrowful insight—a rueful masterpiece.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

About the Author

Amit Majmudar is a diagnostic nuclear radiologist and an award-winning poet whose work has been featured in The Best American Poetry 2007. His first poetry collection, 0°, 0°, was published in 2009, and a novella, Azazel, was serialized in The Kenyon Review. Partitions is his first full-length novel. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.


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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Writing June 22 2011
By Vivek Tejuja - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
My grandmother used to tell me stories about the partition, about how they left their homeland Pakistan and were evicted to India in August 1947. I used to hear these stories with enthrallment, not knowing the hardships she and my grandfather went through to build a new life. How could I have known? I was but a child at that time. However, as I grew up, I started being more perceptive of the event and it made me see things differently - keeping in mind both countries - India and Pakistan and what its citizens experienced when partition was announced.

A lot of writers have written about the Partition - from Salman Rushdie to Bhisham Sahni to Khushwant Singh and each one of them have depicted the state of affairs in a different way. Amidst these stalwarts, comes a new book entitled, Partitions by Amit Majmudar.

I had the opportunity of reading this vividly written book and I must say that I was mesmerized by the prose.

Partitions centers around four individuals from both sides of the border and how their lives converge throughout the book. Shankar and Keshav, two Hindu Boys, have lost sight of their mother at a train station and don't know where they belong or where to go to. Simran Kaur, a young Sikh girl, has run away from her father, who would rather see her dead than dishonored. Ibrahim Masud, an elderly Muslim doctor is driven away from India towards the new Muslim State of Pakistan.

The book is about the meeting of these four characters and how they come together ironically enough, defying every political thought and viewpoint. The writing is lyrical - it is almost like the sentences dance on the page and you are transported to another time and place. The main theme of the book, hope, comes across strongly and evokes a sense of belonging and what does it take for a bond to form amongst strangers.

I would highly recommend this book because of its plot, the heart-felt writing and the possibilities that exist in our world and are brilliantly portrayed by writers such as Mr. Majmudar through the medium of writing.

Reviewer for Bookpleasures.com
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not pass GO, a must-read June 27 2011
By jrudick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Majmudar is, foremost, a poet. This is his first novel, though I sincerely hope there will be more. I have been privileged to experience much of his poetry, published and private, and found him equally capable of gut-wrenching emotion, childlike curiosity, and very clever wordplay.
He knows his history and culture intimately, and most importantly, he can tell a story.

This all comes together seamlessly in Partitions, which might be described as both a historical novel and a ghost story. It favorably brings to mind "Cutting for Stone", by Abraham Verghese, also a physician with something to say.

I read Partitions in a single setting; I was carried off into this tender nightmare and was held spellbound to the last page.

James Rudick, MD
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! Sept. 21 2011
By B. Niedt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I "discovered" this author (a radiologist by profession) earlier this year, after meeting him at a writer's conference and reading his excellent second volume of poetry, "Heaven and Earth." So I was looking forward to his first novel, though with a little trepidation - not every writer can make a seamless transition between genres or styles. But Amit Majmudar succeeds here with one of the most affecting novels I have read in quite some time.
The setting is the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947, after India won its independence from the British Empire. As part of this act, the land was partitioned into two nations, India and Pakistan, the former designated for Hindus or Sikhs, and the latter for Muslims. Over twelve million people were displaced and migrated to new homes. The mass two-way exodus resulted in a flare-up of religious and cultural animosity, and up to a million died as a result of massacres and border conflicts.

Like "The Lovely Bones", this story is told from the point of view of a ghost, Hindu doctor Roshan Jaitly, who left behind his young wife Sonia, and young twin sons, Shankar and Kashev. He can only observe, mostly helplessly, as his family is caught up in the maelstrom of the partition, and mother is separated from children in the mob at a train station. Meanwhile, he also follows the travails of Dr. Masud, a kindly Muslim physician, and Simran, a Sikh girl who has escaped from her father's murder of his family to prevent the perceived horror of capture by the "Musselmaans". It's certain that these characters will eventually meet, but that does not lessen the power of the story's development, which is told earnestly and (as I might expect from a fellow poet) poetically. Majmudar paints the details of this dangerous time with an unflinching eye, yet stopping just short of gratuitous or graphic violence. Though as a reader I was initially uncomfortable with the omnipresent-narrator-as-character conceit of the story, I became accustomed to it, and the strength of the narrative and depth of the characters carried me through to a satisfying and (dare I say it again) poetic end. As an emotionally moving story set against such a cultural backdrop, I would compare this novel favorably to "The Kite Runner". The fact that I wished the book was longer is, almost in itself, enough to call it a triumphant first novel. Bravo, Dr. Majmudar.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book Feb. 5 2012
By Judy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a remarkable book about one of the horrifying realities of human conflicts in the 20th century, but written in clear prose with a poetic flow. Set in 1947 at the Punjabi border of India and the newly declared Pakistan (west), the title is both literal and metaphorical. I think this book may join other western classics about 20th century India, such as the quite different "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry, "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, and the "Jewel in the Crown" by Paul Scott. I easily tuned in to the voice of the ghost narrator, which I could easily have tuned out from the hand of a lesser writer. I hope Amit Majmudar will tell us more stories. When (not if) someone makes a movie of this, I sincerely hope they do justice to this gem of a novel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read Aug. 25 2011
By Mo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Pros:
- A quick read at some 200 odd pages
- A gripping story set in the days of partition. I have read a whole lot of books on partition and, in fiction, this certainly rates amongst the better ones.
- The character development is done nicely for all the three linked stories.

Cons:
- Somehow the idea of using the dead father as a narrator didn't work for me. It sounded a little disjointed at times. A nice ploy though.
- The language is a little too flowery at times. I think the author needs to lay off the "comma" key of the keyboard. Almost every sentence had multiple commas. This made the sentence structure unnecessarily long.
- The "shock" value at the end seemed a little forced

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