Sunday, January 12, 2014
The exhibition Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space explores the 1947 Partition of India. The collection currently on view at the Nasher Museum also includes other cultural identities, but South Asian artists remain central to the exhibition. To further examine the turmoil surrounding the Partition of India and the creation of the modern state of Pakistan, the Nasher Museum is hosting two discussions of the novel Train to Pakistan.
The haunting story of the arrival of civil war to a remote and peaceful town, Train to Pakistan was published in 1956 by renowned Indian author Khushwant Singh. A journalist known for his wit and biting honesty, Khushwant Singh was born in 1915 and spent his lifetime telling stories, both in fiction and non-fiction. He edited The Illustrated Weekly of India for nearly a decade, was a Member of Parliament, and published a provocative weekly column “With Malice Towards One and All.” In November, he received the Mumbai LitFest 2013 Landmark Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award for “outstanding contribution to the Indian literary space.”
Perhaps the best way to understand Khushwant Singh’s approach to his writing, his desire to tell the history of India’s cultural struggles, and his need to keep the Indian public engaged in thoughtful discussions comes from a 2005 interview in Outlook India Magazine. Asked why he took the job at The Illustrated Weekly, Khushwant Singh replied “I knew what I wanted to do, and it was a three-pronged formula: inform, amuse, and provoke.” Staying true to himself, Khushwant Singh unabashedly published stories about controversial topics, often employing humor to make his points. Even now, at age 98, he writes about emerging political, social, and religious issues in India with same honest and fearless confrontation.