Khushwant Singh is an Indian author, lawyer, diplomat, journalist, and politician. His experience in the 1947 Partition of India inspired him to write Train to Pakistan in 1956, which became his most well-known novel. Born in Hadali, Punjab, Singh worked as the editor of several literary and news magazines and contributed to maintaining peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. He was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan in 1974 which he returned in 1984 in protest against the operation Blue Star. Later, in 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, which is the second-highest civilian award in India. Khushwant Singh books are enjoyed by all age groups and have a large demographic of readers.
Here is taking a look at 5 most-read Khushwant Singh books of all time:
Train to Pakistan is a historical novel by Khushwant Singh, published in 1956. It recounts the Partition of India in August 1947 through the perspective of Mano Majra, a fictional border village. An idyllic and peaceful village, Mano Majra resorted to love and harmony even at the face of all odds till external forces come and disrupted all the harmony.
The odds start when a train filled with dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus arrive in Mano Majra. Riots and strikes reached a high with the Sikhs and Hindus being on one side and the Muslims on the other. Torn between them and their vested interests are two people—Juggut and Iqbal, the former being a criminal and the latter being a western educated fellow on a mission to reform the society. Also underlying it is a love story that transcends all religions and odds.
Singh has tried to explore the theme of love, pride, passion, religion, culture, and Indianness. The novel is set in British India and is about a magistrate loyal to Britishers and his nationalist and patriotic son who believes in using the gun to drive out the Britishers.
It is also the story of the women of the family—Champak, Sher’s beautiful wife, her wild passions bursting the bonds of century-old prohibitions, and Sabhrai, Sher’s mother, whose matriarchal strength sustains the family in its time of crisis. What happens to this family when a brutal and senseless murder sets father against son, wife against husband, is told against the background of an India torn by religious tension and fraternal strife.
The collection by Khushwant Singh is thought-provoking. “The portrait of a Lady” is the most famous short story by Singh in the collection. He established his reputation as a writer in the London Magazine through this short story. The story is not flamboyant but modest, restrained, and well-crafted.
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It is a work of non-fiction which consists of essays. This book is on why he supported the move. The author has put his observations and analysis of events of the times with modesty.
“I return to Delhi as I return to my mistress Bhagmati when I have had my fill of whoring in foreign lands.”
Thus begins Khushwant Singh’s vast, erotic, irrelevant magnum opus on the city of Delhi. The principal narrator of the saga, which extends over six hundred years, is a bawdy, ageing reprobate who loves Delhi as much as he does the hijra whore Bhagmati – half man, half woman with sexual inventiveness and energy of both the sexes. Travelling through time, space and history to ‘discover’ his beloved city, the narrator meets a myriad of people-poets and princes, saints and sultans, temptresses and traitors, emperors and eunuchs – who have shaped and endowed Delhi with its very special mystique And as we accompany the narrator on his epic journey we find the city of emperors transformed and immortalized in our minds forever.
These are some of our favourite Khushwant Singh Books. What are your favourite reads from this author?