Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: "DELHI: A NOVEL"


Genre: Fiction, History
Language: English
Pages: 391
Cost: 85 Rs.
Publisher: Penguin
First Published: 1990

Delhi: A Novel is a historical novel by very honorable Indian writer Khushwant Singh. He is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. He has been honored by Indian Government with ‘Padmbhushan’ and ‘Padmvibhushan’ awards.

We all know Delhi is historically very rich city. It has many layers of history lying there. Khushwant Singh unfolds all of it in this book. He covered almost all the measure historical events in the history of Delhi. But this is not plain history catalogue of Delhi, as the title of book suggests it is a novel. Khushwant Singh added his sarcasm, his specialty humor and also eroticism in the book. This book is sort of time travel, it moves backwards and forwards in time through the history of Delhi. It has sort of written in autobiographical way. It has as its backdrop the story of a journalist fallen on bad times and his relationship with a hijra (eunuch) named Bhagmati.

In this book Delhi’s History unfolds beautifully chapter by chapter. He describes many historical events and historical characters. You will meet real historical characters like Nadir Shah and Taimur looted and destroyed Delhi. You will meet Aurangzeb who ruled Delhi. You will also Meer Taqi Meer and Bahadur Shah Zafar. There are some fictitious characters like Musaddi Lal Kayasth , a Hindu convert working under the hostile Ghiyas ud din Balban in the fourteenth century. The book covers history of Mughals right from dawn of the Mughal Empire to the sunset of the Mughal Empire. The novel ends with the terrorized narrator watching his Sikh neighbors mercilessly burnt alive by people angered due to the killing of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh guards.

Although it is clear to see the author’s love for Delhi, but he also narrated very dark bleak side of Delhi. Delhi always been suffered in the hands of people who lusted for dominance and it still goes on and will go on.

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