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The Portrait of a Lady: Collected Stories of Khushwant Singh

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Item Code: IHL264
Author: Khushwant Singh
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9780143065876
Pages: 480
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.5 Inch X 5.0 Inch
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Book Description


I believe that short stories should conform to tradition: in being short, having a good beginning, middle and end— preferably a surprise ending with some message to convey. Unfortunately the tradition has long been flouted, particularly in the United States. Their leading magazines (like the New Yorker) carry stories of the size of novellas, introduce many characters and asides which have little relevance to the central theme and often conclude without a proper ending. Being published in the New Yorker is usually regarded as a hallmark of success but I find these stories highly overrated and find the stories appearing in British magazines like Granta and the London Magazine closer to my idea of what they should be. (Only one story in this collection went out of control and almost became a novella.)

My role models are Aldous Huxley, Muriel Spark, Dorothy Parker, Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham. Likewise I rate highly the continental writers Mauriac, Camus and Moravia. Among Indians my favourites are Premchand, Saadat Hasan Manto, Raja Rao, Satyajit Ray, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishen Chander and the Pakistani, Intezar Husain. I don’t know how other short—story writers choose their themes. Mine are based on real people I got to know well. Of course I had to change their names for fear of libel suits-I’ve had more than my share of those. I look forward to meeting unpleasant people: arrogant, full of self-importance, posers, gasbags, braggarts, name—droppers, hypocrites. I encourage them to talk about themselves. They are never short of words. I put them in different situations; add some mirch masala to spice up my stories as I put them on paper. I have no great opinion of myself as a writer but I am different from my contemporaries as my stories are more malicious and funnier than theirs. A few of my stories may have been written fifty years ago, but they are relevant to the present times as they are reflective of the humbug that still thrives in our society. It is for no other reason than this that I appeal readers to have a look at them.

Back of the Book

‘A Khushwant Singh Short story is not Flamboyant But Modest, Restrained, Well-Crafted…Perhaps His Greatest Gift As A Writer Is A Wonderful Particularity of Description’-London Magazine.

‘Khushwant Singh first established his reputation as a writer through the short story. His stories—wry, poignant, erotic and, above all, human—bear testimony to his remarkable range and his ability to create an, unforgettable world.

Spanning over half a century, this volume contains all the short stories Khushwant Singh has ever written, including the delightfully tongue-in-cheek ‘The Maharani of Chootiapuram’, written in 2008.

‘Khushwant’s stories enthrall...[He has] an ability akin to that of Somerset Maugham...the ability to entertain intelligently’-India Today

‘His stories are better than [those of] any Indian writing in. English’-Times of India

‘The Collected Short Stories leaves the reader in a delightful, inebriated trance’ - Sunday Chronicle


Preface ix
The Mark of Vishnu18
The Butterfly24
The Interview35
The Portrait of a Lady40
The Voice of God45
A Punjab Pastorale55
The Riot67
The Rape72
The Memsahib of Mandla 80
The Great Difference 89
When Sikh Meets Sikh98
Death Comes to Daulat Ram 104
The Insurance Agent112
The Fawn120
Man, How the Government of India Run!127
The Man with a Clear Conscience140
Black Jasmine148
The Bottom——pincher160
A Bride for the Sahib172
Maiden Voyage of the Jal Hindia195
India Is a Strange Country220
Mr. Kanjoos and the Great Miracle230
Mr. Singh and the Colour Bar239
The Morning After the Night Before245
A Love Affair in London 251
Rats and Cats in the House of Culture 258
The Red Tie 276
My My Native Land 282
The Convert 286
Paradise 301
Life’s Horoscope 330
Zora Singh 374
Wanted A Son 402
The Mulberry Tree 430
The Maharani of Chootiapuram 462
Copyright Acknowledgements 470
**Sample Pages**

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