Review of “The Sunset Club” by Khushwant Singh

sunset club

Blurb:  This book is about three men – Sardar Boota Singh, Nawab Barkatullah Baig, and Pandit Preetam Sharma. They have been friends for more than forty years. They’re all octogenarians and are a part of the sunset club. Every evening, during sunset hours these men sit in the Lodhi Gardens, and indulge in conversations about a number of controversial topics. These topics range from religion and politics to love, sex, and scandals.

My views: In the book, The Sunset Club, the author delicately portrays the life and problems of old age. He keeps track of this trio for a year, from January 26, 2009 to January 26, 2010. The different events that take place through a year include violence, general elections, corruption, and natural disasters. And the ways in which the conversations of the trio change as per time, are given in The Sunset Club.

This book not only gives a picture of the old picture in India, but it also highlights the various social complexities and irony. The readers can experience an emotional roller coaster ride with sadness and laughter, through this book.

If you have been living in Delhi for long, there are few places which you must have definitely visited with your friends or family. One is India Gate where families go for a picnic; you would often see children playing, running all over the grounds, enjoying ice-cream and their parents relaxing and taking pleasure in their kids’ happiness.

The other place is Lodhi Garden, where exactly our story takes place. Lodhi Garden as described in the book was landscaped into gardens by Lady Willingdon, wife of Governor-General of India, Marquess of Willingdon, and hence named the ‘Lady Willingdon Park’ upon its inauguration on 9 April 1936, and 1947, after Independence, it was given its present name, Lodhi Gardens.

Nowadays you can see people going there for morning and evening walks, jogging, yoga, families enjoying picnics, in some corners you might see pre-wedding shoots going on, college children practicing their plays or dance moves and much more goes on in Lodhi Garden. This garden harbors varieties of  trees and plants and have been divided into sections based on flora and fauna. I am one of the lucky people to have my office nearby Lodhi Garden and on most days after lunch I go for a walk in garden and almost everyday I get to see something new. I still feel a large part of the garden is still unexplored by me.

While reading the book, I could actually imagine all the days and seasons in Lodhi Garden and may be that’s why I got to enjoy the book so much. I don’t know what would be yours views after reading the book and with exactly what expectations you actually bought the book. I bought it because of the author, Mr. Khushwant Singh. He is a witty sardaar who says whatever comes to his mind and  have a very unique way of looking at the things. The character of “Sardar Boota Singh” seems to be based on him only. I could imagine Mr. Khushwant Singh enjoying his patiala peg, lavish food and a wicked smile on his face when he would say those dirty words and swear again and again just to irritate Sharmaji. This book might just seems to be a story of three oldies enjoying their evening in Lodhi Garden. But once you start reading the book, you will realize it is a lot more. The topic of discussion everyday is different and that’s where you get to admire the author for subtly writing about the most common things yet raising the issues which have been haunting us for a long time. You would be forced to think about the issues and to come up with your own views. The best thing in this book is that nothing is wrong or right. What might be wrong for you, might be right for someone else. The book actually shows you that life is Grey.

You might be thinking that this book is kind of preachy but you are completely wrong. There is no preaching in this book, it’s totally for enjoyment but even then at the end it will leave huge impact on you.

These three oldies: Pandit Preetam Sharma, Nawab Barkatullah Baig and Sardar Boota Singh, love each other and constantly worry for each other. They may not show it but their love for each other is visible at many instances in the story. They have been friends for over forty years and now are in their eighties. Every evening, at the sunset hour, they sit together on a bench in Lodhi Gardens to exchange news and views on the events of the day, talking about everything from love, lust, sex and scandal to religion and politics.

The Sunset Club is a deeply moving exploration of friendship, sexuality, old age and infirmity; a joyous celebration of nature; an insightful portrait of India ’s paradoxes and complexities.  This book is definitely a masterpiece and makes me more eager to read the other books by Khushwant Singh.

 

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