In Train to Pakistan, truth meets fiction with stunning impact, as Khushwant Singh recounts the trauma and tragedy of Partition through the stories of his characters-Stories that he, his family and friends themselves experienced or saw enacted before their eyes. A bestseller when it was first published in 1956, Train to Pakistan is now widely accepted as one of the classics of modern Indian fiction.
In the summer of 1947, the frontier between India and its newly-created neighbour, Pakistan, has become a river of blood, as the post-Partition exodus across the border erupts into violent rioting. But in the tiny village of Mano Majra, Sikhs and Muslims continue to live peacefully, their lives regulated by the trains that rattle across the river bridge. Until a train comes to an unscheduled stop, and the villagers discover it is full of dead Sikhs. Mano Majra turns into a battlefield of conflicting loyalties which none can control. In the stirring climax, it is left to Jugga, the village gangster to redeem himself by saving many Muslim lives.
Margaret Bourke-While lived and travelled in India through 1946 and 1947, photographing with an unflinching eye the horrors that were unfolding in a sub-continent torn asunder by an arbitrary line drawn by an Empire on whom the sun was setting. Published in Life magazine, the images sent shock waves across the world.
In this unique edition of Train to Pakistan, published on its 50th anniversary, we bring you Bourke-White's hitherto unpublished photographs of Partition, that illustrate Khushwant Singh's prose with a stark and almost unbearably heart-rending subtext.
About the Author:
KHUSHWANT SINGH was born in 1915 in Hadali in pre-partition Punjab. Educated at Government College, Lahore, and at King's College and the Inner Temple in London, he practised at the Lahore High Court for a few years. In 1947, he joined the Indian Ministry of External affairs. In 1951, he embarked on his career as a journalist with All India Radio.
A much-revered journalist and columnist, Khushwant Singh is also an accomplished historian (History of the Sikhs,, Vols. I & II), and an award-winning novelist. His vast oeuvre includes translations, joke books, books on Delhi, women, nature and current affairs.
Awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974, Khushwant Singh returned the honour in 1984 to register his protest against Operation Bluestar-the Union Government's siege of the Golden Temple.
Khushwant Singh was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986. Ever since, he has devoted himself to what he excels in-writing. This is his fourth book for Roli Books.
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE was born in 1904, in the Bronx, New York. Her interest in photography began as a young girl, when she would pretend to take photographs with an empty cigar box. After studying photography under Clarence White at Columbia University, she opened a studio in Cleveland where she specialized in architectural photography.
In 1929, Bourke-White was recruited by Henry R. Luce, founder-publisher of Time magazine, as a staff photographer for his new business magazine, Fortune. She made several trips to the Soviet Union and in 1931 published Eyes on Russia. Deeply influenced by the Depression, Bourke-White became increasingly interested in politics.
In 1936, Bourke-White toured the south with writer Erskine Caldwell, whom she later married, to supply pictures for the book You Have Seen Their Faces. The same year, Henry Luce decided to launch a picture magazine in which the pictures would not be subservient to the text, but tell a story of their own. The magazine was called Life and Bourke-White was one of the four original photographers to be hired. As a photographer for Life, Bourke-White revisited Russia in 1941, and was the only foreign photographer to be present when the first bombs fell on Moscow on 22 July. She spent the next four years covering World War II in Europe, including inside Nazi concentration camps.
After the war in 1946, Bourke-While was sent by Life to cover the emerging nations of India and Pakistan. She photographed both Muhammed Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi several times, taking her last picture of Gandhi hours before he was assassinated.
Bourke-White remained with Life as a photographer until 1956, photographing everything from the Korean War to South African goldmines to the Connecticut river valley.
In the 1950s, Bourke-White discovered she had Parkinson's Disease. After a successful medical procedure to ease its effects, she returned to Life in 1958, but as a writer. She died in 1971, after a life full of adventure, pioneering a new art form: photo journalism. She remains one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.
Back of Book:
"Babies were born along the way. People died along the way. Many of them simply dropped out of line from sheer weariness. Sometimes I saw children pulling at the arms and hands of a parent or grandparents, unable to comprehend those arms would never be able to carry them again."
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