Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Date: January 22, 2008
As a youth, Qasim leaves his tribal village in the remote Himalayas for the plains. Caught up in the strife surrounding the creation of Pakistan, he takes an orphaned girl for his daughter and brings her to the bustling, decadent city of Lahore. Amid the pungent bazaars and crowded streets, Qasim makes his fortune and a home for the two of them. As the years pass, Qasim grows nostalgic about his life in the mountains while his hopelessly romantic teenage daughter, Zaitoon, imagines Qasim's homeland as a region of tall, kindly men who roam the Himalayas like gods. Impulsively, Qasim promises his daughter in marriage to a tribesman, but Zaitoon's fantasy soon becomes a grim reality of unquestioning obedience and unending labor. Bapsi Sidhwa’s acclaimed novel is a robust, richly plotted story of colliding worlds straddled by a spirited girl for whom escape may not be an option.
Finally, Zaitoon saw them get up from the charpoy for a parting embrace. Qasim, conspicuous as a mountain-man anywhere in Lahore, looked curiously unlike one when facing the stranger. At least so Zaitoon thought as she hurried in to warm his tea. He would be coming up any minute and she would soon find out who the visitor had been. Twenty minutes went by, and she leaned over the balcony to see what was delaying him.
"What I loved about The Bride was its passion and vitality. Bapsi Sidhwa writes with immense vigour and liveliness and she has brought her world and people exuberantly to life."
"There is a Kiplingesque quality to Sidhwa's writing, the congenital ability to make one feel the ambiance of the locale: the stifling heat, the poverty, and yet the warmth which exists between families.....There is an innocent eroticism in The Bride which is both touching and illustrative of the complete naivete the child brings to the wedding bed."
Atlanta Journal & Constitution:
"With an entertaining, highly readable writing style, Ms. Sidhwa draws the reader into Pakistan and its peculiar -- and yet universal -- problems. Her conclusion, not completely definitive, does what any good book does. It leaves us wanting more."
"Sidhwa, a Pakistani, writes dramatically of marriage, loyalty, honor and their conflict with old ways in this well-told tale."
"Sidhwa shows a marvellous feel for imagery -- at a breathless pace she weaves her exotic cliffhanger from passion, power, lust, sensuality, cruelty and murder."
"The author manages to capture the conflict of pride and kindness in the Moslem psyche. She also portrays beautifully a Pakistan still in a state of upheaval, and as yet confused as to its destiny and future."
"What a wonderfully descriptive writer she is, really introducing the reader into a new world. One hopes that there will be many more novels from the pen of this most sensitive writer."
Alamgir Hashmi in World Literature Today:
"The two story lines (Zaitoon's and Carol's), combine to produce a splendid tale - at a level far above that which is familiar in Pakistani Anglophone writing."
Andrew Sinclair in the London Times:
"Bapsi Sidhwa is a powerful and dramatic novelist who knows how to flesh out a story."
Penelope Lively in The Sunday Telegraph:
"There is plenty of vivid and forceful writing here; the smothering rules of a repressive religion are seen in action -- the fetid female 'cencanna,' the suppressed and violent sexuality of the men."
The Yorkshire Post:
"Indian novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's first novel, The Crow Eaters was a comic delight. Her second, The Bride displays the same fresh storytelling and keen eye for the hilarious idiosyncracies of human life, but its core is serious -- the harsh and lonely plight of women among the Northern tribes...this is a fluent and lively novel, crowded with interest -- not the least of which is the description of the secret, womb-like world of purdah and the women's quarters."
"Candour compels the admission that recent novels of India, albeit prize-winning and peerless of prose, have not always been easy on the digestion. But those shamed to admit they never managed to complete the weightier Raj writings should turn with fearless appetites to Bapsi Sidhwa's The Bride. Sidhwa beckons us deep into the primitive hills of Kohistan, then to bazaar-spiced Lahore at the crisis of Partition."
"Bapsi Sidhwa's The Bride reveals to the western reader a way of life that is completely alien. Sidhwa writes with the same vivacity that made the author's first novel, The Crow Eaters so memorable."
"With Sidhwa's keen awareness of breath-stopping scenery, of complex societies, of the Muslim woman's peculiar strengths and acute vulnerabilities: a delicate tale of power and intelligence, never over-bearing in its message-delivery."
Gitanjali Singh in Far Eastern Economic Review:
"The Bride is fast moving and interesting enough. Sidhwa's genius, however, lies in her style. She has a rare sense of fun that is irresisible. The naturalness of her descriptions of the physical -- be it the look, the body or the sexual act -- is a unique feature among the Subcontinent's women writers."
"Ingenious and dramatic, Sidhwa's forceful literary traits make The Bride one of the finest books to come out of the expanding South Asian literary scene."
Introduction by Anita Desai