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I am writing Historic Fiction novel with the decades leading to 1947 Partition and bloody aftermath as backdrop.

British Raj was divided based on religion. If person was on "wrong" side of border, they were attacked (attacked is an understatement) by mobs.

I really don't want to go into it here, because it may traumatize lot of you, here are some references

  1. Long New Yorker Article - only read if you don't cry easily
  2. If you are a Dr. Who Fan, short episode guide of "Demons of Punjab"
  3. 1-Minute YouTube Gandhi Move Border Brawl Scene - tensions are as high today as they were back then .... trust me

My family was Hindu/Sikh on newly created Pakistan side who literally ran for their lives, so I have more material and emotions from their experiences.

At the same time, there are Muslims on newly created India side who faced their own traumas and had to run for their lives. One of my Pakistani co-worker's family was from Amritsar, India where it was especially violent against Muslims. At first there was even tensions between us (work-related issues), but then we patched up :-)

How do I write about these traumas without seeming more biased toward Hindu/Sikh side.

At the same time, if I write about traumas Muslims faced, how to avoid Hindu/Sikhs (especially those living in India) saying I am partial towards the "other" side.

Intended audience for my Novel is Westerners who have little or zero background on these events.

However I'm sure (if my novel is good enough), the story will be read with those whose family were casualties of the Partition.

What I wish for my novel to do is

  1. have same (or better) effect that Dr. Who, "Demons of Punjab" episode had
  2. give some sort of closure to those or family of those who were casualties of the Partition, regardless of India or Pakistan side, such as this movie (with English Subtitles).
  3. be an engrossing read for all, regardless of background
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  • I'm not sure if it was necessary to create 4 new tags for this one question... – Weckar E. Mar 16 '20 at 9:24
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I would recommend reading Gene Luen Yang's Boxers & Saints for perspective on how someone else has dealt with this question. It depicts the same historical conflict through the viewpoints of a main character on each side.

I'm normally not a fan of alternating viewpoint stories, but this seems like a good case for one. It's hard to see any other way of doing it that isn't clearly picking sides.

Maybe pick two main characters who are initially childhood friends (across religious boundaries), but end up on opposite sides after the partition. You might not have to actually do alternating viewpoint if you build enough empathy for the non-viewpoint character. You could even do a Romeo-and-Juliet interfaith romance, if that is of interest to you (however, that could anger people for other reasons).

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  • Thank you for this reference. Good choice to use cartoons, else the carnage would traumatize readers. – Marium Mar 13 '20 at 16:36
  • I edited my answer to add a bit of extra advice. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Mar 13 '20 at 16:45
  • That's a good idea. Perhaps add other characters from the other side. Yeah, you are right, a Romeo-and-Juliet interfaith romance might anger some people. – Marium Mar 13 '20 at 16:53

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