The Map and the Scissors is extraordinary, thought-provoking, epic, and beautifully written historical fiction, a story of clashing personalities and partition that brought back history to life.
The Map and the Scissors by Amit Majmudar
Publication Date : June 30, 2022
Publisher : HarperCollins
Read Date : August 27, 2022
Genre : Historical Fiction
Tea for this book : Menthol Tea
Disclaimer – Many thanks to the publisher and Blogchatter for the review copy as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program.
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Two intense, inflexible personalities duel over a question that will decide the fate of millions: one nation-or two?
Jinnah, the consummate, ruthlessly analytical gentleman in a tailored suit, starts out sceptical of those who come to his door proposing a ‘Land of the Pure’, but ends up founding exactly such a country. Gandhi, the religious visionary in homespun khadi, experiments with Truth in his quest for one India-only to witness, in anguish, the bloody birth of two nations.
The Map and the Scissors is a novel about the epic origin story of modern South Asia, brought to life by two London-educated lawyers, mirror-image rivals who dreamt the same.
The Map and the Scissors is fantastic and epic historical fiction that portrays Gandhi and Jinnah, two London-educated lawyers who played an important part in the freedom and partition of India. The story is about a freedom struggle, a united dream divided by clashing personalities, a power struggle, civil war, and partition.
Writing is beautiful, poetic, vivid, and touching, perfectly reflecting the life of Gandhi and Jinnah keeping very close to true historical accounts. The plot is interesting and thoughtful that started in 1893 with how young and energetic Jinnah in London with his interest in theater switched his degree from businessman to lawyer and returned to Bombay where he became a successful rich lawyer, known among elites and started dabbling in politics and dreamed of united freedom; while at the same time Gandhi, not so successful lawyer, after facing the humiliation in South Africa instigated revolt with nonviolence and from there he brought the revolution to India where both Gandhi and Jinnah clashed from the very first meeting.
Even though I knew the end result of these two men’s lives, it was super interesting to see how a similar dream of a united free India was divided into partition, who exactly came up with that idea, why Jinnah insisted on Pakistan, and why Gandhi was against it when whole India was burning with civil war.
Let’s just start with, I didn’t like either Gandhi or Jinnah from the beginning and I agree with the author, both were very similar in nature- headstrong, stubborn, inflexible, charming, influential, egoistic, and their first love was politics, I didn’t like how they treated their wives, and they both didn’t put aside their judgments and prejudice.
I didn’t understand Gandhi’s ways, yeah sure his methods produced mass followers and inspired people to fight for India but at the same time, it prolonged the freedom and his nonviolence didn’t exactly stop the civil war. It was also annoying how he said near the end he would have liked Jinnah near his heart in his pocket, he never exactly give Jinnah a chance to put forward his thoughts, when the crowd was being hostile towards Jinnah in meetings for addressing him ‘Mr. Gandhi’ instead of ‘Mahatma’, Gandhi didn’t exactly say anything to stop people. I was literally laughing when he said his Jew friend from South Africa to try nonviolence against Hitler! The man was deluded. His fasts often looked manipulative. I didn’t like the reason he gave to Sardar for taking back his name and letting Nehru be the leader of the party. He wasn’t right in everything and Jinnah wasn’t wrong in not believing in him.
Jinnah‘s life is most interesting from his political affairs to his marriage with a young Parsi girl, Ruttie, and his bond with her sister Fatima. I was surprised to see how his political career was in the backseat after the death of Ruttie and the entry of Nehru and Sardar. Even more surprised to read Pakistan wasn’t his dream or his idea, in fact, he discarded it as a fanatic dream. If it wasn’t for Liaquat Ali Khan and the challenge he felt from Nehru, he wouldn’t have returned to India and started a new movement. I agree with Nehru and Sardar, Jinnah’s demands were impractical. If they have agreed to it, other leaders of other religions would’ve demanded the same for them and ultimately it would be like Divided India within Free United India, it wouldn’t have made difference from British India and that idea of four different stats on all side of India to be included to Pakistan, it was utterly absurd and impractical.
There are still some things that were unclear about both men like how Gandhi thought self-restraints that he called the experiments, helped him to be strong and what drove Jinnah to partition, was it his dream to rule, jealousy that his hat of the dream was on someone else’s head because one thing was clear he wasn’t exactly doing it for Muslims as he himself was atheist.
It amazing to read about other historical figures and the roles they play in Gandhi and Jinnah’s life – Brave and iron-willed Nehru and Sardar, Ruttie’s innocent and mad love, Fatima’s confidence and sharpness, Sarojini’s poetry and fluctuating loyalty, Manu Gandhi’s loyalty, hatred of Godse and Harilal, and people’s blind hatred and fluctuating loyalty.
It was sad to see so many what-ifs and possibilities murdered by the decisions of leaders of parties and how people made the consequences disastrous.
Overall, The Map and the Scissors is extraordinary, thought-provoking, and beautifully written historical fiction that brought back this painful nightmarish historical time period to life with its accurate details, facts, and representation.
I highly recommend this if you like,
Historical fiction closer to facts and sources
Story reflecting life of Gandhi and Jinnah
Beautiful and poetic writing
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