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What The Body Remembers


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Arundhati Roy meets Rohinton Mistry in a rich, epic first novel of the partitioning of India.

About the Author

Shauna Singh Baldwin was born in Montreal to a Sikh family and grew up in India. The author of English Lessons and Other Stories and the co-author of A Foreign Visitor's Survival Guide to America, her short stories have been published widely and she has won numerous prestigious literary prizes in Canada and India. hat the Body Remembers is her first novel and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the Caribbean and Canada region. She lives in Milwaukee with her Irish-American husband.


The dramatic and brutal story behind the 1947 partition of India, as played out in the region of Punjab, is the compelling backdrop for this stunning first novel that entwines the fate of three remarkable characters: Sardarji, a wealthy Sikh landowner whose heart is in India, but whose head is in England; Satya, his constantly scheming, feisty wife who lives for her husband but cannot give him children; and Roop, Sardarji's second, much younger wife, married for the express purpose of providing the family with an heir. Intensely atmospheric, the novel contains lyrical descriptions of daily life in a village with dusty fields of maize and clusters of homes; the cinnamon, anise and fennel smell of Satya's kitchen; Sardarji's Oxfordian attire and his spindly-legged English furniture. Baldwin, who grew up in India, skillfully creates an exotic milieu where women are sheltered from the outside world and struggle for influence over their families. As headstrong Satya, more involved in her husband's affairs than most of her peers, and demure Roop, trained to exercise traditional feminine wiles, battle for Sardarji's favor and the children Roop soon produces, Sardarji is increasingly distracted by the furor over independence and the future of the Indian state. Baldwin achieves an artistic triumph on two levels, capturing the churning political and religious history of modern India and Pakistan as she explores memorable transformations: of Satya, from a dominating force in her family to a lonely outsider; of Sardarji, from an idealistic, ambitious engineer to a hardened, more realistic civil servant; and finally, of Roop, from an arrogant, self-centered daughter to a selfless wife and mother who becomes the backbone of her family. 6-city author tour; simultaneous publication in the U.K. and Canada; rights sold in Germany, Italy, France. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Canadian-born Baldwin, of Indian descent, lives in Milwaukee with her Irish American husband but sets her debut novel in an India soon to be torn by partition. More intimately, the story concerns the relationship between the two wives of a Sikh landowner. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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