I return to Delhi as I return to my mistress Bhagmati when I have had my fill of whoring in foreign lands...' Thus begins Khushwant Singh's vast, erotic, irrelevant magnum opus on the city of Delhi. The principal narrator of the saga, which extends over six hundred years, is a bawdy, ageing reprobate who loves Delhi as much as he does the hijda whore Bhagmati-half man, half woman with sexual inventiveness and energy of both the sexes. Travelling through time, space and history to 'discover' his beloved city, the narrator meets a myriad of people-poets and princes, saints and sultans, temptresses and traitors, emperors and eunuchs-who have shaped and endowed Delhi with its very special mystique. And as we accompany the narrator on his epic journey we find the city of emperors transformed and immortalized in our minds forever.
Khushwant Singh is India's best-known writer and columnist. He
has been founder-editor of Yojana and editor of the Illustrated
Weekly of India, the National Herald and the Hindustan Times. He is
the author of classics such as Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the
Nightingale and Delhi. His latest novel, The Sunset Club, written
when he was 95, was published by Penguin Books in 2010. His
non-fiction includes the classic two-volume A History of the Sikhs, a
number of translations and works on Sikh religion and culture,
Delhi, nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry. His autobiography,
Truth, Love and a Little Malice, was published by Penguin Books in
Khushwant Singh was a member of Parliament from 1980 to
1986. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 but returned
the decoration in 1984 in protest against the storming of the
Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian Army. In 2007, he was
awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
Among the other awards he has received are the Punjab Ratan,
the Sulabh International award for the most honest Indian of the
year, and honorary doctorates from several universities. He passed
away in 2014 at the age of 99.