I’m delighted to be taking part in the launch celebrations for Where the River Parts by Radhika Dogra Swarup. Where the River Parts was published in paperback on 18th February by Sandstone Press. It is available to buy here on Amazon UK.
Here you can find out all about the book and read my review of this lovely historical novel.
Where the River Parts
Half a century and half a world are not enough
Blood had begun to trickle down Asha’s starched cotton salwar, and once more she tried to will herself to stay calm. It was nothing. These things happened.
But these things haven’t happened before. It’s August 1947, the night before India’s independence. It is also the night before Pakistan’s creation and the brutal Partition of the two countries. Asha, a Hindu in a newly Muslim land, must flee to safety. She carries with her a secret she has kept even from Firoze, her Muslim lover, but Firoze must remain in Pakistan, and increasing tensions between the two countries mean the couple can never reunite. Fifty years later in New York, Asha’s Indian granddaughter falls in love with a Pakistani, and Asha and Firoze, meeting again at last, are faced with one more – final – choice.
My review of Where the River Parts
Based around the events of Partition in India in 1947, Asha’s story takes her across decades until she is an old woman in a sweeping historical love story. I don’t usually make comparisons between writers but I think those who’ve loved Dinaah Jefferies’ books will love Where the River Parts too.
I have to confess that I knew very little about the violent times of Partition and wasn’t sure that I would enjoy Radhika Swarup’s novel, but it is wonderful.
In Where the River Parts there is an exquisite telling of the violence and heartbreak of political turmoil from an intimate perspective. In Asha, Radhika Swarup illustrates just how huge international events impact on the individual, so that I found it impossible not to feel fully engaged with what happened in another country a whole lifetime ago. The sadness for me in reading this book is that so much of the same horror is being inflicted on people today.
Radhika Swarup’s writing is so vivid. She appeals to all the senses so that the heat, smells and colours of India and Pakistan are beautifully conveyed. There is a real sense of place.
The plot races along and my only complaint is that the narrative does not end exactly how I would like but I can’t say more without spoiling the read for others. Let’s just say it reduced me to tears.
I think the title is fantastic. Action takes place physically where the river does indeed part, and Asha’s memories return to that part of her life when she is an old woman reflecting on her past, but also, the title represents the ways in which women carve out their lives like a river flowing across the earth.
I think I have learned so much from reading Where the River Parts. It has everything from history and politics to geography and culture, but more importantly, it shows love and the enduring spirit of humanity. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About Radhika Swarup
Radhika Swarup spent a nomadic childhood in India, Italy, Qatar, Pakistan, Romania and England, which gave her a keen sense for the dispossessed. She studied at Cambridge University and worked in investment banking before turning to writing. She has written opinion pieces for Indian broadsheets and the Huffington Post as well as short stories for publications including the Edinburgh Review.