Khushwant Singh

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Santha Rama Rau

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[In "I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale," Khushwant Singh has again] chosen a period of recent Indian history in which hatred, bloodshed and terrorism were close to the surface of Indian life, and handles them with the same authority that he displayed in his first novel.

Khushwant Singh is direct to the point of brutality, unsentimentally observant, and in his bold characterizations he is ready to explore the least appealing aspects of human nature and relationships. His humor—expertly integrated with an essentially sad and cynical story—is wild, broad, unsparing. Unlike most Indian novelists who exhibit either prudishness or a respectable reticence about sex, his love scenes—or rather, sex-scenes—are startlingly explicit. All these signs of a bounding literary vitality surround a story of two Indian families, one Sikh, one Hindu, and the disruptive events, personal and national, that engulf them. (p. 26)

Once again Khushwant Singh has proved himself an accomplished and commanding novelist. (p. 27)

Santha Rama Rau, "Two Families at the Crossroads," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1959 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 13, 1959, pp. 26-7.

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