We Are Not in Pakistan


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Praise for

We Are Not in Pakistan

A Quill and Quire Book of the Year 2007
“Shauna Singh Baldwin’s collection of stories is potent, poignant, disturbing, and of immense importance at this point in time. She examines the intersection of private lives with political and cultural convulsions. She illuminates terrorism for us: not just the terrorism of the media, but the invisible and horrifically costly terrorism of racist paranoia. I can’t think of a more valuable book for our dangerous times.”
Janette Turner Hospital, author of Orpheus Lost, Due Preparations for the Plague, Borderlines.
“Shauna Singh Baldwin's stories in We are not in Pakistan are engaging and enlightening, international in scope. Baldwin's wonderful eye for detail and her clear, elegant prose bring the daily realities of these estranged characters to life—daily realities that are often profoundly affected by horrific events such as Chernobyl and 9/11. A wonderful collection.”

Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. Trilogy

“Hard hitting and complex, these stories resonate long after you've read them.”

Anjana Appachana, author of Incantations and Other Stories, and Listening Now)

“Baldwin displays an uncanny knack for getting under the reader's skin and stirring a potent cocktail of empathy, sadness, pity and rage . . .She has a gift for dialogue - an almost musical ear. . . her writing is so strong and so consistent that she'll make you forget you're reading. And that alone is worth the price of entry.”

--- Montreal Gazette

“A chain of tales that has not a single weak link. . .Shauna Singh Baldwin's writing is, quite simply, brilliant. She finds the unique voice of each character and lets him or her speak, as vivid personalities are discovered rather than created. The stories are collaborations between author and character. This collection is a dazzling achievement by a gifted storyteller.”

--- Atlantic Books Today

Praise for

The Tiger Claw

Finalist for The 2004 Giller Prize

National Bestseller (Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald)

National Bestseller (#5 Feb 6, 2005, The Tribune, India, #11 May 9, 2005)
The Tiger Claw is a first rate spy thriller and also first rate literature. Set in the 40s in Occupied Paris with haunting similarities to the world today, this is a novel that reminds us that sometimes only fiction can really tell us the truth...The story of one woman's courage in the face of racism, betrayal and hypocrisy on one hand and the evils of war on the other. It is also a love story between Muslim and Jew told in a language that resonates with mysticism and romance -- yet it is brutally honest in its assessment of motives and ambiguities.”

Giller Prize Judges

“...Baldwin finds a Muslim woman who has much to teach our own time...deliberately turning the [spy novel] genre inside out and giving it a good shake, in order to explore the interplay of racism, sexism and imperialism...Baldwin is ...far more overtly political than most of Canada's younger novelists (she was born in Montreal), and she becomes more ambitious with every book...Years of careful research on three continents, as well as extensive contact with her subject's extended family, result in a portrait of Noor Inayat Khan that explains why she did what she did in compelling, convincing ways. It's a noble undertaking and a considerable achievement.”

The Globe and Mail

“Baldwin’s luminous prose captures the reader’s attention . . . [She] immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the Vichy era, replete with undercurrents of terror and prejudice. . . . Readers, especially those interested in history and politics, will be intrigued by this gripping, richly textured novel penned by a consummate storyteller.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“Baldwin has succeeded in crafting yet another indelible story based in fact.”

The Edmonton Journal

The Tiger Claw brilliantly reveals the shifting sands of allegiance in times of war and the duplicity required for survival when all who are operating underground are interdependent but no one can be trusted fully.”

The Gazette (Montreal)

1“Stayed up late and got up early to finish Tiger Claw. I cried. Now I feel haunted. I was especially taken with your description of the execution. Thanks for a great read. Noor is now a permanent part of my invisible community. Thank you for bringing Noor into my pantheon.”

(Jean Feraca, host of HERE ON EARTH Wisconsin Public Radio/Public Radio International)

“Shauna Singh Baldwin's second novel, The Tiger Claw, muses on the dangers of tribal intolerances in ways that would enlighten contemporary leaders, and peoples, embroiled in their own disputes. . . . This is Canadian-born Baldwin's second historical novel, a genre in which she excels. . . . While the fictional Noor Khan is sometimes earnest, especially when contemplating her absent lover and the child they conceived, then aborted, she's complex enough to keep the reader interested. So are the Resistance fighters working with her in Paris and the members of her extended family. Her brother Kabir, who eventually becomes a Sufi holy man, preaching the ideals of peace and tolerance while remaining dangerously close-minded with the people he loves, is the strongest character of all. Like so much in this fine novel, he rings disturbingly true.”

The Gazette (Montreal)

The Tiger Claw is a paean to miscegenation, to cosmopolitanism, to Sufi Universalism, to love.”

Today (India).

“Baldwin tells a completely riveting story, brought to life by the thousand tiny details that spring from the most involved research. She takes you to Occupied France and into Noor’s story with haunting persuasiveness. And she comments elegantly on the universal victims of oppression – free will and human dignity – to show us how embracing a multi-faceted identity in a multi-faceted world alchemically turns victimization into resistance.”

Biblio (India).

“Remarkably well-researched novel…Ms Baldwin has skillfully transformed war and espionage, both traditional elements of male-oriented literature, into the foreground of a woman’s narrative.”

Dawn (Pakistan)

“A stirring tale of love and betrayal in a foreign land. Like the troubadour, [Baldwin] has the natural gift of pinning you to the window of her imagination until you hang by her each word and every twist and turn of the tale, begging for more...the novelist makes full use of Khan’s nuanced inheritance . . . the manner in which Baldwin illustrates how helpless individuals are in resisting state-sponsored fear and hatred against their fellow citizens forms the most impressive part of her story. . .Baldwin’s account is a long “J’Accuse!” type of narrative that links the plight of all victims – whether they are called Noor or Rivkin.”

India Today.

“It’s a fiction closer to truth than any authorised account. . .Baldwin’s ability to bring her characters to life has never been in question and it reigns supreme now, as we follow Noor through danger and romance, concentration camps and safe houses. And the Tiger Claw raises fierce questions...The book’s simplicity is deceptive: it may look like a war yarn in brownface, but Baldwin aims for nothing less than to rewrite Imperial history. . .”

Outlook (India)
“The book poignantly addresses the obsession with race and identity through Hitler’s Germany.”

Financial Express (India)

“What might have turned into a simple war-time love story takes shape as a discourse on tolerance, a comment on the clash of cultures in a war-torn world. . . The Tiger Claw offers glimpses of a fairy tale romance minus the happy ending. Like other war-time espionage, this one too has many gaping wounds to be sutured and memories to be sifted through. And Baldwin goes through them carefully.”

Indian Express
“A good story, this! . . . Why another book on the Second World War? . . .the issues raised in Noor’s story are as relevant today as then.”

The Hindu (India)
“What strikes you about the novel, as you make your way through it, is just how very ambitious and concentrated an effort it is.”

First City magazine (India)
“Shauna Singh Baldwin is in a different league…The Tiger Claw is straightforward war romance, backed by deft writing and a visible effort on Baldwin’s part to understand the workings of the Resistance and the twists and turns of war. . . The Tiger Claw, taken in isolation, would be enough to compensate for some of the neglect of that [WWII] portion of our country’s history. . .”

(Business Standard, India)

“. . .gives an imaginative insight into her protagonist’s psyche.”

-- Indian Express, New Delhi
“...passionate, provocative, and brilliant...The book works on several levels depending on what the reader wants it to be – a love story, a spy thriller, a personal journey of a woman to find herself, a book that traces the roots of conflicts, or just a fabulous read...If you are looking for a friend to turn to every time fear about the world and insecurity about yourself creeps up, this is the book to buy."

-- Oncewritten.com

“Moving and ardent. The author is brutally honest through her characters and spares no one as she compels us to think about the world we live in. . . If you are looking for a friend to turn to every time fear and insecurity about yourself and the world creep up, this is the book to have at your bedside.”

-- Islam Online, Egypt

(advance praise)
“A deeply felt, richly evocative novel that resurrects and reinvents a remarkable life, The Tiger Claw tells an affecting story of love and loss amidst the turbulence of war and human dislocation. It confirms Shauna Singh Baldwin as a major literary voice that transcends the borders that divide human experience.” —Shashi Tharoor, author of Riot and The Great Indian Novel
The Tiger Claw is a fascinating story of moral complexity, inner conflict and exile, a magnificent portrait of a very courageous woman, Noor Inayat Khan, the legendary French Resistance fighter, whose divided conscience is reflected in the drama of Nazi-occupied France and British-occupied India. That Noor strikes us a modern figure of heroism and doubt is because of the compelling vision of Shauna Singh Baldwin.”

— Marie-Claire Blais

The Tiger Claw is a brilliant novel, a harrowing story of espionage and love, of loyalty and betrayal in the treacherous world of WW II Europe. Shauna Singh Baldwin has an astonishing ability to paint a very large canvas with amazing detail. You are there. ‘Impressive’ hardly even begins to describe it: masterful. I could not put it down. A stunning achievement, but most of all, important.”

—Sandra Gulland, author of The Josephine B. Trilogy

Praise for What the Body Remembers
Bestseller 42 weeks, National Post

Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2000

National Bestseller in Canada (#6 National Post; #6 Maclean’s; #9 Toronto Star; #8 Edmonton Journal).

Village Voice Literary Supplement Editor’s Choice.

Commonwealth Writers Prize 2000 Best Book Award (Caribbean and Canada region)

“Shauna Singh Baldwin won the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2000 Best Book Award in the Caribbean and Canada region for What the Body Remembers, putting her in the running for the global Commonwealth prizes to be presented on April 14th.”

The Globe and Mail, Feb. 23, 2000

“[We] are offered a sumptuous tour of that rich and poor and calm and chaotic country …”

The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 21/99
“A captivating jewel of a novel by a seasoned and sophisticated writer…Beyond being a compelling tale of individuals, What The Body Remembers offers a gimlet-eyed view of a pluralistic society’s disintegration into factionalism and anarchy.”

-- The Washington Post

“Shines…an ambitious debut.”

-- Entertainment Weekly
“A richly textured often poetic story … Newcomer Baldwin’s theme – the grueling uses to which women’s bodies and spirits are put, and their abuses at the hands of men – combines with the political analogue of India’s struggle for independence to produce a lush, sensuous drama.”

- Kirkus

“This narrative about fathers estranged from daughters, mothers from sons, husbands from wives, becomes a metaphor for the turmoil and flux we call history, without always speaking of that history directly… When history does enter the novel, Baldwin introduces it expertly… This is a novel whose many themes and characters have been orchestrated, for the most part, with great confidence and without sacrificing complexity. It is an impressive debut.”

The National Post, September 25, 1999

“Wonderful! Wonderful! I just finished What the Body Remembers--what an amazing novel! I
feel it has expanded my understanding of the world vastly. And as a writer, I feel nourished, replenished. I drink your words!”

-- Sandra Gulland

“An epic of heartbreak and honour set in Northwest India in the dying light of the Raj…. Painstakingly researched, its characters frankly convincing, and set against a rich backdrop of gods, politics and tradition, this novel earned its Montreal-born author the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2000 for Best Book in Canada and the Caribbean.”

-- National Post, Dec. 30/2000
“I very much admired the strength and control with which the author keeps her complex story going, and at the same time keeps it clear, and true to the spirit of India.”

-- Penelope Fitzgerald
“If you’re one of those readers of novels who likes to think ahead, you might want to clear some space on the bedside table for What the Body Remembers… It’s not going to be out for another year, but already the buzz is stuff of the highest voltage…. The Next Big Thing.”

Stephen Smith, “Grub Street”, The Globe and Mail

“Engaging.” The Globe and Mail
“The dramatic and brutal story behind the 1947 partition of India, as played out in the region of Punjab, is the compelling backdrop for this stunning first novel that entwines the fate of three remarkable characters.... Intensely atmospheric, the novel contains lyrical descriptions of daily life in a village with dusty fields of maize and clusters of homes: the cinnamon, anise and fennel smell of Satya's kitchen; Sardarji's Oxfordian attire and his spindly-legged English furniture.... Baldwin achieves an artistic triumph on two levels, capturing the churning political and religious history of modern India and Pakistan as she explores memorable transformations: of Satya ... of Sardarji ... and finally of Roop.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“Few enough novels deal with the wrenching period in Pakistan's history known as partition; fewer still filter these events through a woman's eyes. Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers does both, placing a heartbreaking family saga against a turbulent period in world history to explore how the personal becomes political. More than just a story about a polygamous marriage the novel is an allegory for the partition period.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“Stunning…Intensely atmospheric, lyrical…An artistic triumph…Remarkable.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“ ‘What The Body Remembers will surely be hailed as one of the most important and original novels about Indian history,’ says Kevin Baldeosingh, chairman of the Caribbean and Canada judging panel.”

-- Toronto Star, Feb. 23/00

“[It] is much to Shauna Singh Baldwin’s credit that in her rich and gripping novel, What the Body Remembers, she is able to present a picture of Partition that is both complex and focused, aware of viewpoints other than those espoused by the characters and alive, also, to the dangers of allowing plot to get swamped by politics. ... With remarkable deftness, Baldwin shows how the balance of power between the women shifts and shifts again… Baldwin’s portrayal of Sardar-ji is brilliantly believable…”

-- Times Literary Supplement (UK)
“Baldwin – born in Canada, raised in India, now living in the United States – refuses to cast any people or individual as solely heroic or villainous… Plot is also rendered deftly, as the main characters’ intimate lives are woven into the fraying fabric of Indian history… In fact, “cinematic” is the word for the sweep and urgency of this writing as it depicts escalating violence and impending doom… Comparisons with other war-tinged, end-of-an-era novels like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind or other ethnic women’s fiction like Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club are inevitable, but What the Body Remembers is unique and unforgettable.”

-- San Diego Union Tribune

“astonishing… Taking as its subject the huge and complicated canvas of pre and post-Indian Independence from 1937-47, What the Body Remembers is set in a Punjab seething with political unrest; but its themes and emotional heart are ancient ones of love, jealousy, infertility and religious fury, cunningly dovetailed into the saga of one Sikh family… The individual stories and complex religious and philosophical divisions are woven into the larger picture with supreme confidence and a poetic intensity. The characters shimmer with life, their predicaments grab the reader by the throat, their fate has the reader on the edge of the seat, their individual psychological journeys are instantly recognizable…open up another world and yet offer a glimpse of humanity that is both intimate and universal… Shauna Singh Baldwin is her own master and this book is an enthralling read.”

The Times (London)

“An impressive achievement...rich, fascinating, epic...[Baldwin] weaves a richly textured tapestry of a complex and cruel society built around the second-classness of women.... An original, extremely readable book that dramatizes the plight of Indian women with great sympathy and love.”

The Montreal Gazette (review)

“a gripping novel… at times heartbreaking, at times bittersweet…”

The Montreal Gazette (interview)

“All the best books open out a different world to the one you know… Some of the most interesting books [Dava Sobel; Roddy Doyle; Rose Tremain] published this autumn are like that; they dig into history, they travel continents, and then they alight on the glancing details and personal stories that make the rooms and streets of seventeenth-century Europe or Thirties India as sharp as the scene outside your own window… But my favorite of all these excursions into the past is a first novel by Shauna Singh Baldwin...”

— Natasha Walter, 1999 Booker Prize judge, Vogue (UK)

“At the heart of What The Body Remembers – a powerful saga of a Sikh family set against the Independence movement – are three unforgettable characters... Baldwin is a masterful storyteller and though the idea that men look at women “only through the corner of their eyes” underpins her story, Satya and Roop are not clotheshorses for feminist statements. They are complex, shaded and resonant with ironies… Baldwin’s portrayal of Partition is made even more poignant and horrific because she has earlier detailed the old, syncretic rhythms of life with such warmth and flavour… Marvelously also, her novel is layered both with a palpable Sikh ethos as well as a western, cosmopolitan lifestyle; imbued with fragments of conversation in Punjabi and snippets of songs and prayers… What The Body Remembers is a triumphant and fascinating example of a bilingual sensibility which has successfully and convincingly translated itself into English. Perhaps for the first time. Read this book.”

Outlook magazine (India)

“Baldwin describes the scenes of the Independence movement with great verve. For the subcontinent, Partition was the most momentous event of the 20th century. But men who were affected by it…have written most of the literature. This is a woman’s perspective. And because women suffered most when their homes were uprooted, this book becomes a more intimate account.”

India Today

“While What the Body Remembers will be read as a story of familial relations, it will be remembered more as social history – the customs, traditions and mores of rural Punjab, many still unchanged.”

India Today

“an impressive first novel, hype or no hype. Baldwin’s passion for re-membering her dis-membered homeland, and her desire to tell women’s version, propel the last half of the novel and make it particularly potent.”

Quill & Quire

“Singh Baldwin’s gift of creating convincing interior dialogue is ever-present throughout her novel…. What the Body Remembers will leave its readers full, certainly, and like all fine works, the digestion will take many days, and the feast remembered the more fondly for it.”

The New Brunswick Reader

“Singh Baldwin’s protagonists will keep a reader captivated throughout the long journey of the novel… [her] gift of creating convincing interior dialogue is ever-present… The scope of What the Body Remembers is a vivid contrast to the fact that this is her first novel… The reader cannot help but become engrossed in what is so unfamiliar, yet so immediate in Singh Baldwin’s treatment… What the Body Remembers will leave its readers full, certainly, and like all fine works, the digestion will take many days, and the feast remembered the more fondly for it.”

  1. New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal


The Independent (London)

“Read it.”

Cosmopolitan India

“a sensitive portrayal of the condition of women in the Indian sub-continent… without the stridency of feminism.”

India Currents

“the author weaves a richly textured tapestry of a complex and cruel society built around the second-classness of women… One of the most interesting features of this fascinating book is the degree of complicity of Roop in her own fate… What the Body Remembers is an original, extremely readable book that dramatizes the plight of Indian women with great sympathy and love… an impressive achievement, particularly for a first novel.”

Windsor Star

“This well researched, often lyrical novel is of unique historical significance: it reflects and defends the Sikh position in the politics of the Punjab during the Partition of India in 1947. It also traces the gripping story of one Sikh family, and in the telling opens doors and windows to the psyche and lore of a community.”

— Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Cracking India

“Baldwin has captured the tensions between the Sikhs and the rest of India with both precision and poignancy. The insular world of the Sikhs serves as a picturesque backdrop for a society caught between two worlds. While the novel’s historical text is based in fiction, it also tells an incisive history of the Punjab. Baldwin displays the gifts of a first-rate social observer. Baldwin passionately records the longings, losses and compromises of her character’s simple lives, and the inherent consequences they face, straddled between cultures, ideologies and religions. ‘

-- The Winnipeg Free Press,

“a very impressive debut”

Holly McNally, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Winnipeg
“wonderful characters and a really interesting plot”

Laurie Greenwood, Greenwood’s Bookshoppe, Edmonton

“The people at Knopf Canada must be doing cartwheels these days over the signing of…Shauna Singh Baldwin…for…What The Body Remembers…”

-- Ottawa Citizen

What the Body Remembers is an engaging story of life in pre-partition India, and a compassionate look at the lives of its two protagonists—Sikh women who are practically voiceless within their own culture…History is merely a background to the domestic story, but its intimacy is what makes this novel work…What the Body Remembers is a worthwhile read.”

-- Edmonton Journal

“…A gripping intimate story of the lives of two families set with a backbone of historical fact. What the Body Remembers is a poetic assimilation of Eastern ideas and universal longing.”

-- North Shore News, Nov. 5, 1999
“Her first novel, What the Body Remembers, is a passionate epic tale set amid social strife, the political and religious turmoil, which simmered for generations and exploded like a land mine after Second World War…This novel introduces readers to a rich cultural landscape that shimmers in the heat of the day, the fine dust of oppression settling over the villages, deteriorating the spindly English furniture that Sardarji cherishes.”

-- North Shore News, Nov. 5, 1999
“Shauna Singh Baldwin’s impressive first novel, What the Body Remembers, is a sprawling tale which primarily covers the 10 years leading up to partition in India. It is also a striking book in that it tells its story first from one woman’s, then another woman’s point of view, as well as from the Sikh perspective.”

-- FFWD, Oct, 99

“…a shining new novel…What the Body Remembers heralds the arrival not only of a significant new talent, but also of a fresh perspective on history, rarely experienced before.”

-- The Readers Showcase.
“…Baldwin both overwhelms and educates as she takes readers on this crowded and eventful ride through the complexities of life in 20th-century India.”

  1. - Monday Magazine

“Shimmers with life…An enthralling read.” -- The Times (UK)

What the Body Remembers is a beautifully told story... The traditions and habits of the people are also described in all their detail, without losing the reader’s interest. ..Clearly, greed and treachery are universal. You will not forget the characters in this story…Make it a point to get your hands on this book. The Princess Project, Kenya
Praise for

English Lessons and Other Stories

Friends of American Writers Prize 1996

“Are these lessons for everyone? Yes; and they make for interesting reading. So much is said in a single line… These stories delight in many ways. They provide an array of views through a mosaic of characters from different generations and social spheres. Their positions and postures are finely drawn… Every detail is for a purpose… Always present is a lively, active, questioning spirit.”

-- Books in Canada

“In 15 insightful but mostly sad stories, Baldwin examines the bruises and wounds endured by immigrant Sikhs learning how to live in English-speaking North America… Baldwin writes with seeming ease about life in both North America and India. She devotes loving attention to details of tradition and culture… They are both emotionally and politically loaded, both sweet and sour… English Lessons is a fascinating collection rich in cultural insight. These are life lessons worth sharing.”

-- Edmonton Journal

“It is a fine first collection and marks the entry of a promising writer into the expanding world of Indian fiction in English.”

-- India Currents

“A writer from an ethnic minority who writes frankly about his or her community takes enormous risks. It is to Shauna Singh Baldwin's credit that she has been unafraid to step on a few toes… English Lessons And Other Stories is distinguished by the visceral shock of truth it delivers. These autobiographical stories carry the elegiac tone of tales passed from generation to generation… Baldwin's prose is precise, nuanced and sensual. She threads her stories with ravishing glints of colour that explode against the pallid landscape of Canada.”

-- Toronto Star
“One of the great strengths…is their evocation of place. …her stories bring an exotic colour and texture… These are stories to enjoy… Baldwin puts lots of emotional range in her stories…you can expect a great deal from Baldwin.”

-- Canadian Forum

“Family, place, and politics are rendered like precious intaglios in English Lessons and Other Stories – these are intricate narratives etched deep in hard material. …superb short stories... What makes her stories most interesting is that their choices are not what they at first appear to be. Almost all the stories in the collection, like Shakespearean sonnets, end with the last line of the story ironically reversing what has come before. …subtle wisdom…remarkable achievements, especially for a first collection…”

-- Georgia Straight

English Lessons is an unusually assured fictional debut, combining the feel of an old family album with the uncensored stories behind the happy snapshots… The author has an ability to lift everyday dilemmas out of the realm of cliché into tales of poignant, sometimes searing, power… Many of these were first written for radio, giving them the immediacy of a conversation with the next-door neighbour.”

-- Outlook (India)
“Baldwin writes with a restrained passion which describes the friction between East and West, traditional and modern. She has a genuine talent of turning dialogue into a background which is the real subject of the book.”

-- The Asian Age (India)
“…a remarkably subtle, understated and nuanced fashion.”

-- Deccan Herald (India)
“…her stories are significant both as fictional documents which provide some of the inside stories for the Diaspora what it has meant to ordinary people…and also as accounts of the rising awareness and strength of women who must tap their own minds and hearts to enter new worlds, both emotional and material.”

-- The Pioneer (India)
“…comfortable grasp of tone and style… Baldwin never sentimentalizes, never overplays the emotion: instead, she lets the bald facts of history tell their own grim tale…there are no dragon-slaying heroines here, merely ordinary women who find their courage in the most paradoxical of places.”

-- Biblio (India)

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