10 October 2011

Intro to Khushwant Singh

Burial at Sea
Read 3 July 2011

I say, Information makes Impressions... 

Khushwant Singh – Before I read any of his writing I had a lot of information on him but I could never form an impression. Whether he is the writer of famous joke books, or the editor of known literary works, or the one with famous tongue in cheek humour, or the Sikh who spoke his mind, or just some old man writing explicit and erotic stuff. I just could not bracket him. And for that matter I still can't. Is he a philosopher in garb of religion, or a comedian in garb of a diplomat, or a simple writer who has views and is open about expressing them. 

I read his book - 'Burial at Sea' which showed another new side of him -  A Narrator, mind you not a story teller with imagination and vivid details but a narrator who lays down the series of events as they happened without bringing in his own view point or judgements. In his narration he briefly touches bigger subjects like Gandhian vs capitalist ideology, India under British rule and how it is important to learn from them in order to beat them. There is a very clear reflection of Nehruvian philosophy of self-sufficiency and industrialisation. But at the same time there is a mention of age old Hindu yoga and sexual gratification.

Overall a story of a rise of a rich man’s son through British pedigree and bringing to India the industrial knowledge, employment and financial independence, loved and respected by people but deemed to die on the road and buried in sea - for a simple friendship goes wrong over envy and sex scandals.

I read this book only because I wanted to know about Khushwant Singh. Because books are a chapter from author's own life. If not their life story then their philosophy, impressions or even observation of other's lives through their eyes.

I won’t say the book does justice to his persona or to anything but it does show a small glimpse of him and makes you wonder that he has more to him and only for that reason I will read his other books. As for the book you can read it but do not judge the author with it.

Wish to Buy Burial at Sea

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