Readers, regardless of how well-informed by domestic or international newspaper and media reports, might notice two things in Vijayan’s articulation of the condition at the borders on the Indian side: the discussion of the geography of the border—a geography that does not lend itself easily to the practices of partitioning—and the process of storytelling and narrating memories. Vijayan’s travels around the India-Bangladesh border provide a perfect example to discuss the geography of the borders ... The stories Vijayan records can be difficult to bear ... While these stories can be painful, one realizes that they must have been a source of surprise to others listening to the story along with the author ... Apart from the conflicting people’s stories and the military officers’ stories, the book has vignettes about soldiering too ... at its most focused and most valuable in the first half in which Vijayan writes about what it means to live at the borders ... Indeed, although Vijayan’s focus is India, she presents glimpses of South Asia’s inability to be at peace—perhaps this inability is what unites all the diverse nation states that inhabit the geography here.
For her book, Vijayan traveled about 9000 miles in the subcontinent's borderlands to show how nation-states can wreak havoc on the people who live there ... While this courageous book is not about the coronavirus crisis gripping India, Midnight’s Borders is well-timed, providing valuable insights into the workings of that nation’s populist right-wing government, which has been led for the past seven years by a charismatic but hubristic and autocratic prime minister ... the stories it tells are powerful, necessary, and sometimes unbearably poignant.
Vijayan spent years interviewing stateless refugees around the entire border of India. She uses those stories to create a candid and heartbreaking work of exposé journalism ... Vijayan incisively shows how the lives of countless people are governed by often arbitrary borders created by imperialists who knew nothing of the ethnic makeup of the regions. She divides the book into five main sections, delineated along specific borders ... Vijayan is adept at teasing out the fraught, complicated social, political, and spiritual dynamics at play in each region ... Dozens of powerful, intimate stories of people affected traumatically by India’s expedient geopolitical borders.