Indian writer Khushwant Singh dies, aged 99

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 12:30am


Khushwant Singh, one of India's best-known writers who won fame for a searing book on partition of the subcontinent as well as his once-daring descriptions of sex, died yesterday, aged 99.

Singh (pictured) died at his Delhi residence. His son, Rahul Singh, said: "He was having some breathing problems. He hadn't been too unwell in his last few days and had only stopped writing recently. He was still reading newspapers and books… was mentally alert, and led a full life."

The country's most prolific author, nicknamed King Leer for his legendary roving eye, was a household name who wrote more than 100 books and countless newspaper columns, including one called "With Malice Towards One And All".

"I don't know what to do with myself if I don't write, I have lost the art of relaxation," he said in 2005.

Singh, a Sikh born on February 2, 1915 in what is now Pakistan, was a force in India's literary centre stage for half a century with his novels. Some, in his early decades, scandalised India with their sexually explicit scenes.

He is best remembered for his historical novel
Train to Pakistan, which recounts the tragedy and bloodshed of the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 into India and Pakistan.

Born into a well-off family, he initially practised law in Lahore. But partition was the trigger for him to change professions.

After coming to New Delhi, where his father became a prosperous property developer, he entered the diplomatic service in 1947 but soon tired of this and became a journalist and writer.

His philandering fame was mainly self-cultivated. He looked after his wife devotedly until she died of Alzheimer's disease.

Agence France-Presse