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Aanchal Malhotra Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Book of Everlasting Things (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Remnants of a Separation (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Remnants of Partition (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Language of Remembering (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Aanchal Malhotra is a writer and oral historian from New Delhi, India that has been credited with reorienting how we talk and think about our future, present and past. The author was born and brought up in India in a family of booksellers.

At seventeen, she left Delhi and did her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Ontario Canada. For her BFA and MFA postgraduate studies, she studied art and printing and over the years, she worked in anything from traditional typesetting to lithography and engraving before she became a historian and writer.

Even though she came from a family of renowned booksellers, she never planned on becoming a professional author. Her family always kept a variety of items and objects they had carried with them during the Partition of Pakistan and India in 1947. It was from these that she was inspired to begin writing her story.

It all began with Aanchal collecting and archiving many of the material memories and objects that her family had preserved and treasured for decades. It was from this that she would pen “Remnants of a Separation,” her debut novel which was published in 2017. Aanchal published the work while working for a publishing house as an editor.

Aaanchal credits her success as a historian and author to the fact that she grew up surrounded by books. Balraj Bahri her paternal grandfather was then one of the best-known booksellers in Delhi, running some of the biggest bookshops in India.

As such, she had access to all manner of books and hence reading came very naturally. She has said that she believes herself fortunate to have had such an upbringing as they molded her into the writer that she has become today.

Growing up, she used to like reading the likes of Jodi Picoult, and the usual suspects such as “Nancy Drew” “Sweet Valley High” and “Harry Potter.”

However, her interest in history both political history and the more extensive national history, the regions, and the intimate personal histories of people who lived in times of monumental historical change came very late in life.

Aaanchal Malhotra was in her twenties when she got interested in history and since then, it has become part of everything that she does. Since she became a historian she now prefers to read travelogue and history works such as The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa and The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

Aanchal Malhotra’s interest in the Partition was born several years before she published her debut. Even though four of her grandparents had moved across the new India-Pakistan border to Delhi, she had never thought much of the Great Divide.

It was in 2013 that her grandfather had shown her two seemingly mundane objects he had carried with him on the journey across. Her grandfather talked of the objects with longing, as he relived memories of a landscape that a national border had long made inaccessible.

The longer they talked of the objects, the more real Pakistan and Lahore where her grandparents once lived became to her. It was from this that she embarked on an exercise that would see her excavating the past across England, Pakistan, and India.

Of course, the quest began with interviewing her family but she soon moved to interview people and strangers from many disparate communities.

In her investigations, she mostly depended on migratory objects that people had brought with them during the partition to trigger memories particularly if any of these were traumatic.

“Remnants of a Separation” by Aanchal Malhotra is a story that revisits the India-Pakistan Partition through the many objects refugees took with them across the newly established national borders.

The objects absorbed memories of place and time and remained undisturbed and latent for generations. They now emerge as testaments to the pain, sacrifice, and struggle of their owners during one of the most heartbreaking moments in history.

There is a pearl necklace that had been a gift from a maharaja which shows the former grandeur of life; A notebook of poems showcases the determination of a woman to pursue the written word even in a period of significant turmoil.

There is a refugee certificate that had been stamped in Calcutta after the refugee left the Bangladeshi town of Mymensingh zila almost brings a daughter to tears.

The work is a cross between anthropology and history and was drawn from years of research to provide material memory as an alternative history of the Partition.

Aanchal Malhotras’s work “The Book of Everlasting Things” is set in early 1938 where Sami Vij is working at his father’s attar shop in Lahore.

It was in that early morning that he had first met Firdaus Khan, who was looking for some perfume at the shop. Over the years, the two fell in love with each other and with their calligraphy ad performing crafts.

They dream of one-day sharing life, but as the struggle for independence for the Indian colony gathers pace, Lahore is suddenly ravaged by the horrors of Partition. They find themselves on opposing sides of the Partition as Firdaus becomes a Pakistani given that he is Muslim while Samir becomes an Indian as he is a Hindu.

Separated from each other and their love made criminal, the two make some fateful decisions that will over time change their lives forever. As they spiral away from each other on different paths, they keep asking how much they are willing to let go and at what cost.
It is a deeply romantic, sensuous, and lush story of two nations, and two lovers bound by memory and love yet split by forces they cannot control.

Aanchal Malhotra’s novel “In the Language of Remembering” is a natural progression from the bestselling “Remnants of a Separation.” This work is an exploration of that notion as it shows how “Partition” is not an event of the past as its legacy remains very real right into the modern generation.

The work brings together conversations that have been recorded over years with generations of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Indians and their respective diaspora.

It explores how Partition memory is bequeathed and preserved. It is an exploration the consequences and how they manifest in families, nations, and communities.

With the youngest interviewees being mere teenagers and the oldest in their nineties, it asks if the Partition is still relevant in the contemporary world.

Should Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Indians still discuss the Partition? How does it define relationships and does it augment fears and build the characters of communities, nations, and individuals?

Book Series In Order » Authors » Aanchal Malhotra

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