Remnants of Partition
21 Objects from a Continent Divided
Seventy years on, the Partition of India fades from memory. Can it be restored?
Shortlisted for the Hindu Lit for Life Non Fiction Prize and the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize
A Hindustan Times ‘India @ 70’ book
The emotion and trauma of the Partition are buried deep, but Aanchal Malhotra has found a way to recover them. Through the possessions saved by her own great-grandparents as they fled their homes, she discovers the unique power of such objects: to unlock the secrets of a colossal human migration, and a life that once was.
Remnants of Partition is a remarkable alternative history, telling the family stories hidden within items carried between the new India and Pakistan, amid chaos and violence. They uncover a rich tapestry of pain and rupture, but also of hope and connection – in belonging through belongings, and identities reforged.
From a string of pearls to a young woman’s poetry, this extraordinary book gives voice to the voiceless, restoring the everyday to a great drama of the twentieth century. Its power and poignancy will haunt the reader.
Aanchal Malhotra is a New Delhi-based artist and oral historian. She is the cofounder of the Museum of Material Memory, a digital repository tracing family histories and social ethnography through heirlooms, collectibles and antiques from the Indian subcontinent. She can be found on Instagram (@aanch_m), Twitter (@AanchalMalhotra) and her website (www.aanchalmalhotra.com). This is her first book.
‘This is a book of startling originality, weaving stories of intimate connections with objects and harrowing histories of displacement into beautifully cadenced prose. It is a book to treasure.’ – Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare With Amber Eyes
‘A well-researched and richly readable book.’ – Ramachandra Guha, author of India After Gandhi
‘A wonderful idea stylishly executed.’ – Andrew Whitehead, former BBC India correspondent
‘Aanchal Malhotra evokes one of the world’s great tragedies in moving, beautiful prose, woven through everyday objects treasured as relics of a shattered age.’ – Shashi Tharoor, Indian MP and author of Inglorious Empire
‘Artfully weaves travel, memory and materials—all without guile—reminding us why India is one of the world’s greatest storytelling cultures.’ – Gurcharan Das, author of India Unbound
‘This is a truly original way to approach the history of Partition. Malhotra’s writing is evocative and, through the finely observed details of everyday life, brings depth and empathy to understanding this event.’ – Yasmin Khan, author of The Great Partition