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Khushwant Singh Biography

(1915– ), Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, Delhi, Umrao Jan Ada

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

Indian writer, critic, journalist, and translator, born in Hadali in the Punjab (now in Pakistan), educated in Delhi and Lahore, before attending King's College, University of London. Called to the Bar in 1938, Singh practised at the Lahore High Court in the 1940s. After a career in public service, including a period with the Ministry of External Affairs, he became a journalist and editor, establishing a reputation as one of India's leading cultural commentators. His vast erudition and understanding of India's history, political systems, and literary heritage is reflected in his prose works which included a history of his own community, the Sikhs, published in 1963. His novels, which are deeply rooted in the recent history and political situation of contemporary India, include Train to Pakistan (1954), one of the most compelling (quasi-documentary) accounts of the Partition of India in 1947; I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale (1961); and Delhi (1989), a picaresque history of India's capital narrated by a eunuch. Singh has translated into English the works of Iqbal (1981), and the celebrated Urdu novel Umrao Jan Ada (as The Courtesan of Lucknow, 1961); he has also introduced the works of the Sikh poetess Amrita Pritam to an English-speaking audience.

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