The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti is brilliant
There. If that’s all the convincing you need to read it then stop reading this and go find a copy. If not, well then let’s go further and say The Parted Earth is a breath-taking story of love, loss, and identity. It is a story of the Partition of India, of the hatred that led to the creation of Pakistan, and of the aftermath of the lives shattered by the divide.
The story begins in New Delhi during the Partition and follows the life of Deepa, a sixteen-year-old trying to figure out what is happening around her. She falls in love with a boy named Amir, who gifts her with love letters folded into origami.
I won’t tell you what happens, only that the story starts again some sixty years later. Deepa’s granddaughter, Shan, begins searching for her grandmother that she hasn’t met since she was a child. Through a series of these jumps, the story unfolds into something bigger than just Deepa or Shan. It becomes a story of a generation affected by the divide that rocked India.
We carry our family’s scars
Successfully intertwining all the moments and stories that feature in The Parted Earth is not an easy task. Enjeti manages to weave together three generations of women as they each struggle to understand the world around them and work their way through the past. Each story is unique, yet all weave together to become one singular journey.
It is a fascinating account of how the past can continue to hold onto us, even if we have not directly experienced the challenges and trauma. Or even how our own traumas can relate to those experienced by our ancestors.
A fractured subcontinent
In her review of The Parted Earth, author of What Lies Between Us, Nayomi Munaweera talked about how this story was about “the ways in which the fates of individuals and the sub-continent itself were fractured by Partition.”
The subcontinent is its own character in The Parted Earth. Although the story jumps between India, England, and America, the fractured subcontinent is seen throughout. It is part of the identity of Deepa and of Shan, as well as of other characters who come and go throughout the novel. Even in the story told sixty years on from Partition, the reader can feel the pain and the aftermath of that hate that divided a country.
A poignant reminder
If you are reading this article on the day of its release, then The Parted Earth has just hit the shelves. You can find it on Amazon, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, and more. And given that it’s found its way onto lists like the Electric Lit: 27 Debuts to Look Forward to in 2021 and the Lookout Books’ Most Anticipated 2021 Picks from Indie Presses, it’s bound to do well.
The story is of Partition. It is so clearly about working through the damage done when India divided. But its story can also be felt in modern times, in the divides that are sweeping through our world and the ramifications of which we have yet to fathom. In America, hate crime and violence is dividing the country. In Europe, issues of state are dividing the European Union (the UK, where I currently sit, has already left). In China, the Uighurs Genocide is causing untold damage to the Uighurs population.
The Parted Earth is a poignant reminder about just how long-lasting the ramifications of these divides can be.
But it is also a reminder of hope that the scars from our past divides can heal.
I’ll say it again, The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti is brilliant.
The story of Deepa and of Shan is powerful. It spans generations and takes the reader on a journey of divide and reconciliation. It so brilliantly ties into the novel the lives of not only the characters but also the subcontinent. The pain of Partition is felt so strongly in Enjeti’s words that as a reader you are brought back to that time, witnessing the searing of the subcontinent first-hand. This is the mark of a brilliant book. Can you take me somewhere I have never been? Can you make me feel what the characters feel? Can you make me feel the heartbeat of the novel as it flows through the story?
Yes. Yes you can.*