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The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India Paperback – 16 June 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 295 ratings

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Review

The Other Side of Silence is without a doubt one of the most important books ever to be written about the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. More than a history, more than a memoir, it is also an extended reflection on narrative form. Official history has always flinched from acknowledging the full extent of the human cost of Partition. Urvashi Butalia shows us why we cannot afford to forget the suffering, the grief, the pain, and the bewilderment that resulted from the division of the subcontinent. [This] is an extraordinary achievement.”―Amitav Ghosh

“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

"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)

Product details

  • 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
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ India
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 295 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
295 global ratings

Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 1 June 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective of Partition- 1947
By ANURAG MISHRA on 1 June 2021
"𝙉𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙤𝙧 𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙚, 𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙪𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮, 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙖 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙨 𝙚𝙭𝙤𝙙𝙪𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝙨𝙤 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙩 𝙖 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚."

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙨𝙞𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 ( 𝘝𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢) : 𝙐𝙧𝙫𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞 𝘽𝙪𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙖

A truly different perspective and eminent work on oral history of partition, 1947. Butalia's book centers around almost decade-long meticulous interviews, records and research, actively seeking to hear voices of the silenced.

The narration and description of partition, which we know (mainly through textbooks)
are those which deal with political facts of history with Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Jinnah, etc..as the key players.
Human-dimensions of the event are given (comparatively) a lesser status than all the historical facts. Urvashi Butalia did an excellent study and published her book in 1998, which is divided into several parts, dealing with issues like the hardship and trauma women had to face during partition and even in rescue-rehabilitation. The lack of acceptance of mixed borns (Children from Indian father-Pakistani mother/ Pakistani father-Indian mother).
And the topic which shook me a bit, is of the 'other caste' or the 'minorities', whose struggles were a bit different from that of the (mainly discussed classes) Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

Partition of the erstwhile British India into India and Pakistan is clearly a 'dark' side of Independence and it's reminiscence is still relevant today since the bitter legacy of this colossal tragedy still overshadows both the countries, even after seven decades.

Overall, the writer does a great work in narrating the interviews, almost unaltered. The stories of both the victims and the assailants arouses a sense a doubt on humanity, idealistic ways of governance and leaders, who handle such a crucial situation and even our own ancestors, may be.
And the biggest question: Has anything actually changed? How far have we come in these seven decades? And where do we stand now, as a secular nation?
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 6 October 2019
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 10 May 2022
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 9 January 2022
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 12 July 2021
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 13 May 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Novel 📙💙
By Puja Dey on 13 May 2021
I ordered this book very much before but it came late may be due to pandemic situation ....... and luckily received it without any damage ♥️ Though after seeing the pages you may feel it's very much big to read....but ...After reading through few pages you will get interested to this 🌼❣️
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 4 January 2022
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 18 June 2022
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Top reviews from other countries

Ayesha
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 3 May 2017
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Harvinder Gavin
3.0 out of 5 stars hard to read, different time place culture. written ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 6 January 2017
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Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars sources
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 14 October 2013
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CPM
5.0 out of 5 stars A sadly necessary book about ethnic conflict and cleansing
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on 21 February 2022
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Eric
3.0 out of 5 stars it is an excellent book to understand the partition better from a personal ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 7 April 2015
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