WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
I admire Khushwant Singh’s writing. He is one of the most candid writers of his days. I have had the pleasure of reading many of his books too, including Train to Pakistan, Sahibs who Loved India, Khushwant Singh on Women and Khushwant Singh on Love and Sex.
“On India” is a collection of writings from the renowned author on his favorite nation in the world and his motherland – India. The book consists of 26 short essays which have been divided into 6 categories. The essays are written on a variety of themes and written over a period of many decades. Some of them are un-dated as well.
There were many essays which I found to be informative and thought-provoking. Some of my favorites were Those Days of Insanity (in which the author revisits his memories of the Partition), and The Monsoon (in which he beautifully and very poetically describes the Monsoon and what it means to an Indian).
Other essays too are quite impactful and interesting. Some of them though failed to make an impression. They seemed incomplete and their endings were quite abrupt. In some of them, it seemed to me that Khushwant Singh was too critical of the subject of discussion. One such example is Kolkata. The last lines of his essay on Kolkata reads –
“But I cannot understand why they have Calcutta. And if they can’t do without it, why don’t they do something about it like, for instance, blow it up?”
Every city has a flavor and every city has its own disadvantages. To see a city only in harsh light and not appreciate the good in it did not agree with me.
Moving on, there is a part in the book; the 6th section which consists of poetry about various months of the year. The chapter is titled Bara Mah and there is a poem dedicated to each month of the Hindu calendar year – Chet, Vaisakh, Jeth, Asadh and so on. I enjoyed reading this part of the book a lot.
Overall, “On India” is an okay one time read with some of the essays being exceptionally brilliant and some of them just plain dull. There are many which were written in the decades between the 1950s to 1980s and tell you a lot about the time back then. In the end, I would rate “On India” three and a half stars out of five stars on entertainment quotient and would recommend it to people who enjoy nonfiction reads and are fans of Khushwant Singh’s writing.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy from the link below.