William Collins pre-empts 'radical' Dalrymple debut on Indian independence

William Collins pre-empts 'radical' Dalrymple debut on Indian independence

William Collins has snapped up a “radical” new assessment of Indian independence from debut author Sam Dalrymple in a pre-emptive co-publication deal with HarperCollins India.

Publishing director Arabella Pike bought world rights from David Godwin. Five Partitions: The Making of Modern Asia will be published in 2022 to mark the 75th anniversary of partition.

Dalrymple is the co-founder of Project Dastaan, a South Asian peacebuilding organisation. He has been published in the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveller, and worked with BBC Radio 4 and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. He is the son of historian William Dalrymple.

His book argues the history of Indian independence has revolved around the partition of 1947 that saw 11 million people driven from their homes and two million killed, but this was just one of five partitions.

The synopsis explains: “As British rule disintegrated, ‘the Raj’ was partitioned five times between 1937 and 1971. These break-ups and the manner in which they occurred are crucial to understanding the modern world. Each left violent legacies, many of which plague Asia today – including civil wars in Burma and Sri Lanka, the ongoing insurgencies in Kashmir, Baluchistan and North East India, the Iranian Revolution, the rise of the Taliban and the Rohingya genocide.

“Weaving original testimonies from survivors with dazzling narrative skills, Dalrymple brings together into a single history the Partition of Burma, the Great Partition, the Partition of Princely India, the Partition of Arabia and the Partition of Pakistan. It promises an important corrective to the history of Asia and the root causes of the tensions the region faces today.”

Pike said: “From his pioneering work for the Dastaan project and many years spent living in India, Sam Dalrymple brings a fresh perspective to the legacy of Britain’s imperial past across Asia. His first book is an ambitious, brilliant conceived history and we couldn’t be prouder to be publishing him.”

Dalrymple added: “Growing up in Delhi and studying South Asian languages at Oxford, the spectre of Partition has been present in much of my life. In my work with Project Dastaan, I gradually realised that partition’s tragic legacy looms over a much wider region than is generally understood. It’s an extraordinary story that explains so much about what is still unravelling today, from the insurgencies in Kashmir to the Rohingya Crisis. Bizarrely it's never been told before as a single tale. I am thrilled and honoured that HarperCollins has agreed to publish it.”