Sidhwa, Bapsi Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

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.Literature;Bapsi Sidhwa[Sidhwa]Sidhwa, BapsiPakistani immigrants;Bapsi Sidhwa[Sidhwa]American Brat, An (Sidhwa)Literature;Bapsi Sidhwa[Sidhwa]Sidhwa, BapsiPakistani immigrants;BapsiSidhwa[Sidhwa][cat]SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST ASIAN IMMIGRANTS;Sidhwa, Bapsi[cat]LITERATURE;Sidhwa, Bapsi[cat]BIOGRAPHIES;Sidhwa, BapsiAmerican Brat, An (Sidhwa)

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, American Brat, An (Sidhwa)An American Brat (1993). In this novel, a young woman from Lahore comes to the United States and negotiates the difficult terrain between traditional Parsi culture and American free-spiritedness. Sidhwa adapted the novel as a play, which was produced in 2007. In these fictional works, Pakistani and Indian immigrants live and work together as they were unable to do in Asia.

Sidhwa collaborated with Indian Canadian filmmaker Mehta, DeepaDeepa Mehta on two films: Earth (film)Earth (1998), based on Cracking India, and Water (film)Water (2005), upon which Sidhwa based her 2006 novel of the same title. The winner of several literary prizes, Sidhwa won the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award (worth more than $100,000) in 1993, which she used to fund programs to bring together Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshi immigrantsBangladeshi immigrants for scholarly and social events. Sidhwa, who became a U.S. citizen in 1992, lives in Houston, Texas, but travels often to Pakistan, where she campaigns for women’s rights.Literature;Bapsi Sidhwa[Sidhwa]Sidhwa, BapsiPakistani immigrants;Bapsi Sidhwa[Sidhwa]

Further Reading
  • 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

Asian immigrants


Lahiri, Jhumpa


Mukherjee, Bharati

Pakistani immigrants

Categories: History