How Juggernaut came to publish Khushwant Singh

Nandini Mehta on republishing We Indians, which sees Khushwant Singh at his provocative best.

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We Indians is, quite simply, Khushwant Singh at his provocative best, on his favourite subject: the Indian people. This is a book he first wrote in 1982, and which went into at least 15 reprintings. The remarkable thing is, more than 35 years after he first wrote it, it remains of amazing contemporary relevance. However much India may have changed in that period, you realize as you read this book that we Indians haven’t really changed much at all—in our attitude to sex, to religion, to women, to corruption…

In We Indians, Khushwant writes about all these subjects with his characteristic humour and honesty. His sharp, often biting, observations about our follies and foibles, our penchant for humbug and hypocrisy and sycophancy, will make you laugh and groan at the same time. As always, he tells us the timeless truths about ourselves, and that is one reason why he continues to appeal to successive generations of readers.

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I have known Khushwant Singh for over 40 years—first as a school friend of his daughter Mala, then as a memberKhushwant Singh of his editorial staff at the Hindustan Times, and finally as the editor of several of his books. He was a man who gave more generously of himself than anyone I’ve ever known. And his zest for life was undimmed until the end. One morning in early March two years ago, he called to invite me home that evening, and promised there would be single malt whisky and my favourite prawns for dinner. The next morning, he was gone. He was just a few months short of his 100th birthday.

When Juggernaut came into being in 2015, Mala remembered that one of Khushwant’s most popular books had been out of print for a decade, and the rights were back with her. With her typical generosity, and knowing how much her father meant to me, she offered it to Juggernaut as a kind of ‘house-warming’ gift. And that’s how Juggernaut has come to publish We Indians, which all of us in the Juggernaut office fell in love with immediately. We are very proud and happy to bring this forgotten Khushwant Singh classic back into print.

 

We Indians will be exclusively available on the Juggernaut app at launch.

 

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