Publisher: Penguin India
Price: 399 INR
‘The Company of Women’ by Khushwant Singh might be one of the reasons the critics used to mockingly call him the ‘dirty old man’ of Indian journalism. The other novel which might help the naysayers to stay firm on their logic is his other novel ‘Delhi’, whose brilliance can never be disregarded.
In this novel, the author has portrayed the life and times of a certain Mohan Kumar – a womaniser and a sexual maniac – of his university days in the US, his failed marriage and his many affairs before, during and after that. Mohan Kumar is the only protagonist of the story, with the other characters as the enabling characters, to make Mohan’s case stronger for the readers. Mohan Kumar is a rich businessman from Delhi. After his failed marriage, he longs for female companionship just to satisfy his carnal desires. He finds out a novel way to get his fix of the kind of companionship he looks for. Mohan ends up spending times on a temporary basis with more than one willing female. The story also describes how he pays for his transgression at the last.
In the author’s note section, Khushwant Singh, a highly revered writer of English in India, mentions he started writing this novel when he was eighty-three and this could be more aptly titled as ‘The Fantasies of an Octogenarian’. Although this is a work by the famous KS, this story lacks the inevitable charm that Khushwant Singh’s writing has. Maybe the age is to blame or maybe this is exactly what the author wanted it to be like? But, to a reader, this felt like a very much average work and certainly not one expected of Khushwant Singh.
This book is not recommended for readers who are not looking for cheap thrills, erotica or otherwise, but are looking for prose of the highest quality – rather the lesser it’s talked about, the better. And if you are a reader awed by Khushwant Singh‘s other works, this book should better be left alone.
If this book didn’t have the name of the author on it, I would have believed it’s written by any of the current Indian English writers in the market. It’s that bad.
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