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Shauna Singh Baldwin:
What the Body Remembers
Shauna Singh Baldwin
  What the Body Remembers  
Shauna Singh Baldwin    
essay

story

an excerpt



  Set in Punjab against the background of the coming partition between India and Pakistan, What the Body Remembers is the story of a Sikh family facing their own personal issues of authority and control. At forty-two, Satya has not given her husband Sadarji, a wealthy landowner, a child, and so he marries a second young wife, Roop. Roop is a village girl whose mother died in childbirth and whose father is deep in debt. Initially Roop believes that Satya will treat her as a sister, but their relationship becomes far more complicated as they begin to struggle for control over the children to be born and for the affections of their husband.

The story is told from the womens' points of view, and uses the native language, customs, and multi-layerd history of colonization to great effect, drawing its readers into a world that is both exotic and strikingly familiar. Shauna Singh Baldwin's storytelling is deeply imbued with Sikh culture, but the themes of her story--of colonization and disempowerment and the strength that can arise within those confines--are universal.

Here she writes about the struggle she faced to write a book the specific likes of which had never been written, how she had to uncover unwritten history and present a series of entirely new points of view. There is also an excerpt from the novel and a short story from her collection English Lessons and Other Stories.

 
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  Photo of Shauna Singh Baldwin copyright © Jerry Bauer

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