Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Khushwant Singh's latest

I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Khushwant Singh, who was one of the first novelists to seriously write about India's partition (1947), with his book Train To Pakistan (1956). He is also the best known secular/modern Sikh writer working in India.

I even once tried to write a paper about his work -- mainly focusing on his impact on Indian journalism in the 1970s, when he was the editor of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly in Bombay. It seemed to me that his willingness to take the magazine in a "tabloid" direction had a revolutionary impact on Indian journalism, and helped to loosen its Victorian and vestigially colonial values. It also brought him into direct conflict with Indira Gandhi at the time of the Emergency.

Thirty years later (and nearly fifty years after Train to Pakistan), it's amazing that Khushwant still around, and still having an impact -- if a smaller one. But this review of his latest book of short stories in Outlook doesn't exactly make me want to run out and get the book. You would think that a guy who is 90 years old might have developed a little bit of sophistication in his treatment of women.

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