New book puts together Khushwant Singh's best writings

New Delhi: Four years since the death of the legendary Khushwant Singh, a new book brings together some of his finest writings on his native land, Punjab, and its people.

'Punjab, Punjabis & Punjabiyat: Reflections On A Land and its People' presents a comprehensive picture of the land of five rivers, from its origins and geography to its illustrious history and the troubled times of Partition - all through Singh's lens.

"The pieces collected in this book are my father's best writings on Punjab, its land and people, history, religion, culture, literature and art.

"Together they give us a portrait of Punjab and Punjabiyat, as he saw it," says Mala Dayal, the editor of the book, published by Aleph.

Born on 15 August 1915 in Hadali, in the then-undivided Punjab, Singh is considered one of the country's greatest writers.

He could blend humour and simplicity in his signature descriptive storytelling. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2007 and passed away on 20 March 2014, aged 99.

"My father closely followed the political situation in Punjab and watched with dismay the growth of the Khalistan movement and the increasing influence of Bhindranwale.

"His anguish at the storming of the Golden Temple by the Army was so great that he returned the Padma Bhushan awarded to him by the government," Dayal says in the book.

She reveals that many of Singh's Rajya Sabha speeches, his diary and columns reflected his involvement and concerns about matters related to Punjab.

Dayal says though her father was a professed agnostic, he identified himself as a Sikh. "He was worried Sikhism would lose its distinctiveness as a faith and be absorbed by Hinduism," she says.

Having witnessed the impact of Partition first-hand, Singh was inspired to write 'A Train to Pakistan,' one of his most famous works, published in 1956.

He subsequently published five other novels, 'I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale,' 'Delhi: A Novel,' 'The Company of Women,' 'Burial at Sea' and 'The Sunset Club.'

Several of his short stories have been compiled in 'The Portrait of a Lady.' Among his other books are '99: Unforgettable Fiction'; 'Non-fiction, Poetry & Humour'; 'The Freethinker's Prayerbook'; 'A History of the Sikhs'; an autobiography 'Truth, Love and a Little Malice'; a biography 'Ranjit Singh: Maharaja of the Punjab' and a book of non-fiction 'The Return of Indira Gandhi.'


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