Monday, December 17, 2018

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

This was very good and sad, about a historical event I rather shamefully didn't know much at all about.  In 1947 India gained independence from Britain and split into two countries:  India and Pakistan.  Pakistan was for the Muslims.  India was for the Hindus and everyone else.  If you were caught on the wrong side of the border at the partition, you had to leave.  Violence broke out.  Many people died.  Many more lost everything.  How can normal people become so violent and hateful, especially when they have been coexisting for years?    

And why do we never learn?

The writing was good, but as always in the diary format, I had a bit of a hard time suspending my disbelief.  When you're writing in your diary, you don't remember long conversations exactly.  A diary is also a rough draft, so it's hard to read something polished and sometimes poetic and believe it's a diary entry.  Especially when it somewhat artificially builds suspense.  But this is just my own personal, subjective problem with the diary format.  The format does have its poignancy, especially since she's writing to the mother she never knew.

I liked the characters and the sense of setting and history and the cooking details.  The pacing was good. 

It got just a tad heavy-handed in parts.  I think the message could have been stronger if it were a little more subtle.

I love the way historical fiction can bring to life something you may have only read dry dates about in some history class.  And this particular event is something that is very, very relevant today. For that alone, it's worth reading.  Of course, the people who need to read this are probably the people who won't.  Still, every soul touched, every mind changed, is valuable. 
I would recommend this and I would certainly read more by Hiranandani. 

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