The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India Paperback – 16 June 2000
“Selective amnesia and memory are at the root of the relationship between human beings and their history. This book pierces that amnesia, elicits buried memories, and lays the foundations for a more evolved relationship between human beings on this subcontinent and their histories of gendered and communal violence.”―Kavita Punjabi, Telegraph (Calcutta)
“This is a magnificent and necessary book, rigorous and compassionate, thought-provoking and moving. Oral history at its best.”―Salman Rushdie
“[L]ays bare the passions of fear and hatred that too often drive the India-Pakistan relationship. . . . The raw horror of it all is mitigated by the author’s skillful prose, which draws the reader into the Indian story.” ― Foreign Affairs
“Butalia has collected some fascinating material.” -- Akash Kapur ― New York Times Book Review
“Butalia is a pioneer in feminist publishing in India. She is especially alert to the presence―and absence―of marginal voices. . . . [T]he study of popular interpretations of violence as well as the persistence of memory makes this book a critical, self-reflective work. It may seem paradoxical, but the book’s freshness comes also from the fact that it examines wounds that have festered for more than fifty years.” -- Amitava Kumar ― The Nation
“Butalia’s book is remarkable for the author’s critical analysis of her own experiences as well as of the existing literature, and for her skillful demonstration of how the memory of Partition continues to affect India today.” ― Publishers Weekly
“Butalia’s narratives shed light upon the role of religion in shaping identities of families and communitites.” -- Chandra S. Mallampalli ― Books & Culture
“Libraries collecting on genocide, migrations, and freedom struggles definitely need this work.” ― Library Journal
From the Back Cover
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- ASIN : 0822324946
- Publisher : Duke University Press (16 June 2000)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 328 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780822324942
- ISBN-13 : 978-0822324942
- Item Weight : 590 g
- Dimensions : 15.57 x 2.08 x 23.5 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #546,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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- This is an extremely unique book. If you are wondering how so, as so much has already been written and said about partition, as you read my review you will see how.
- The format of the book is essay/story telling. Essays from the author about her work techniques for the book, personal feelings, a brief about the story (interview) that will follow and the interview itself.
The interview was originally in the local dialect and has been translated to English.
- At time things and events are repetitive as the intro to a particular story reveals quite a bit of the actual story verbatim.
- This book spares you the gory details and if graphic violence frightens you, this is the book for you.
- This book focuses heavily on women. The fate of women were decided by the men. The honour killings, the forced marriages and sexual assault...
There are no interviews from women who were actually raped. Only 2nd hand accounts of women being carried away by men, or women returning to families heavy with a child etc
- This book is mostly from the Punjab perspective as the author has roots from the region.
- There is also a section where she meets her uncle who stayed behind and converted to Islam.
- The one area that this book towers high above the the many other I have read so far is dedicated sections to children and harijans. I personally have never read about partition from the 'harijan perspective' and like the author herself have never envisaged that such a perspective could even exist.
You would think harijans are Hindus, but it turns out they are invisible entities.
As for children, you are not give just tiring numbers like xyz children died or were lost. This goes into the depths beyond the figures and touches the sensitive topic of what happened to the children of women kidnapped or raped. Who are these children? Hindu, Muslim? One thing is for sure. They are largely unwanted and many abandoned. What happened to these children? With no proper documentation, one could only hypothesize.
- The initial part of the book has some matter related to the politics, but by and large the book is about people and their experiences.
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The other side of silence is good book related to partition of India. I have purchased the book long ago but put it aside thinking it ordinary book. Now I have completed the book.
Sir it was a great tragedy of India that it was partitioned against the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi.Only he was great visionary at that time. With the help of Britishers, Muslim League particularly Mr Jinha and Liakat Ali were responsible for partition. The three last Viceroy's were solely responsible for partition and British civil and military personnel favoured Muslim League and did everything to ditch Congress party and people of India. Lord Wavell could have controlled great Calcutta killing but he did nothing to prevent the slaughter of people. I don't know if he was incompetent or willingly did it. One million people died 1lac women were abducted and raped.The Viceroy failed,the Governors of Punjab and Bengal both miserably failed.The Army and police sided with the religion and police participated in all short of crime.
All this happened and first time in India law and order so miserably failed. The writer of book Churchilans has written that Lord Mountbatten should have been court marshalled for ignoring slaughter,carnage,loot and abduction on such large scale.Now the plight of Pakistan is before us.
Mrs Butalia also has dealt with first time different with other books,that she has vividly described the plight of women,children and destruction of property.This has made it interesting.It is surprising that so far why the Historians have not given their verdict. Andrew Roberts has investigated the matter and blamed last Viceroy for all this.
There is one glaring mistake at page 118
And I hope that Penguin India would correct it in next edition. The Hardware is at the bank of Gangas and not Yamuna as shown in the book. I recommend it for general readers as well students of International affairs. Penguin India has not it edited properly,this seldom happens in Penguin UK.
Top reviews from other countries
The word holocaust, as used in the Biblical sense of 'burnt sacrifice', is actually relevant here. So many women and children were sacrificed, very literally, on the altar of 'honor' as defined by religion and culture during that awful period in our history. The sheer volume of research done by Ms. Butalia's team could easily have allowed the reader to distance themselves, protected by the objectivity of data...an issue that Ms. Butalia addresses at the very outset, at some length. However, she manages to have the voices of those people, the sacrifier as well as the sacrificed, speak out of the silence with aching clarity. She connects the threads of action (and paralyzing inaction) of Governmental agencies British, Indian and of the newly formed Pakistan with an acute historical perception.
There are a couple of places where the editors could have had a firmer hand, but in all, a book that needed to be written, and now should be required reading for anyone who wishes to know or understand the events of Partition.