‘Waste Not Your Tears on Him’
Lakshmi Kannan
KHUSHWANT SINGH by G.J.V. Prasad Makers of Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, 2019, 73 pp., 50.00
June 2021, volume 45, No 6

In just seventy pages, the author Prasad has packed a lot of punch in this meticulously researched monograph on Khushwant Singh. The engaging narrative is peppered with laconic one-liners, tongue firmly in cheek. While he notes that Singh was many things to many people—a writer, journalist, translator, a reputed Sikh historian, a columnist with a wicked sense of humour, and a ‘dirty Sardar’ who many loved to hate, Prasad adds that he could also laugh at himself. He wrote his own epitaph that read as: ‘Here lies one who spared neither man nor God, Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod.’

There is much fair play too, when he handsomely talks about Singh’s indisputable talent as a writer, editor and historian in a narrative that shows how Singh’s personal life and his publications coalesce in meaningful ways.

In observing that Train to Pakistan (1956) is one of the best novels in English on Partition for its ‘understanding of place and time, of social geographies, of the frailty of human beings and the tenuousness of order and cohesion,’ Prasad adds that even if Singh had ‘written no other books, his reputation would have been established.’

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