As one of the first major Pakistani authors to write in English and to describe life in the Parsi community, Sidhwa has made significant contributions to the literature of diaspora. Her novel An American Brat (1993) is an important exploration of Pakistani immigrants in the United States.
Bapsi Sidhwa was born Bapsi Bhandara in what is now Pakistan in 1938. Her parents, who ran a brewery, were Parsis, members of a religious minority group in India. Karachi, where she was born, and Lahore, where she was raised, were the two centers of the Pakistani Parsi community. Because she suffered from polio for much of her childhood, Sidhwa was educated mostly by private tutors, who encouraged her love of reading and introduced her to classic works of British literature. In 1957, she graduated from the Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore with a degree in ethics and psychology. She married in 1958 and moved to India, where her son and first daughter were born; after a divorce, she returned to Lahore. In 1963, she married Noshir Sidhwa, who became the father of her second daughter.
Sidhwa published her first novel, The Crow Eaters, in 1978. This comic novel about Parsi life was followed by The Bride in 1983, a narrative that begins with the India-Pakistan partition of 1947. Fluent in four languages, Sidhwa wrote the novels in English, believing that they would be more popular in England and the United States than in Pakistan; she thus became one of the first writers to introduce Western audiences to life in Pakistan. When her third novel, Ice-Candy Man (1988; published in the United States as Cracking India, 1991), was published, Sidhwa was living in the United States, teaching creative writing at the University of Houston. This novel, like The Bride, focuses on the India-Pakistan partition and deals with violence against women in Pakistani society.
Sidhwa next turned her attention to the experiences of Pakistanis and Indians living in the United States with the short story “Defend Yourself Against Me” (1990) and her fourth novel,
Sidhwa collaborated with Indian Canadian filmmaker
Dhawan, R. K., and Novy Kapadia, eds. The Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa. New Delhi: Prestige Books, 1996. Jussawalla, Feroza, and Reed Way Dasenbrock, eds. Interviews with Writers of the Post-colonial World. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1992. Ray, Sangeeta. En-Gendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
Asian American literature