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The Doyan of Indian English Writing - Lt Col Manohar Malgonkar

November 18, 2011  by: Madan G Singh  Points: 12   Category: People    Views: 572

Manohar malgonkar who expired last year was a prolific writer in English from India. He deserves our respect for a string of books on all aspects including fiction and non fiction.


On 16 June 2010 one of India's foremost English writers Manohar Malgonkar breathed his last at Jagalpet in Karnataka's Uttara Kannada district. He was 97. With his passing away the last remaining links with the Raj are slowly wearing away.

Manohar Malgonkar was born in 1912 and had his education at Bombay where he graduated in English and Sanskrit. Manohar could trace his lineage to the royal family with roots in Goa and after graduation he took to big game hunting and also shot 8 tigers. But he soon gave up the sport and became a staunch conservationist of wild life.

He joined the Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant Colonel. He was part of counter espionage department and was a member of the general staff. He left the Army after the war and soon took to writing. Though he dabbled in politics, yet his first love was writing and at the age of 47 wrote his first novel 'Distant Drums'. The book won good reviews as Manohar made good use of his army experience in writing the book. The book laid bare the spirit of the Indian soldier and many consider Distant Drums an epitaph for the British Indian army.

Malgonkar in all wrote 5 novels in English. They were Distant Drums (1960), Combat of Shadows (1962), The Princes (1963), A Bend in the Ganges (1964) , and The Devil's Wind (1972).

In addition he also wrote a lot of non-fiction works that included Kanhoji Angrey (1959), Puars of Dewas Senior ( 1962), and Chhatrapatis of Kolhapur ( 1971). He also wrote a highly authentic account of the assassination of Gandhi in the book' The men who killed Gandhi'.

Manohar Malgonkars works will be remembered for their sensitivity and gripping accounts. An example is 'A Bend in the Ganges' which comes out as a powerful story. He was no run-of-the-mill writer, yet his works were popular with a large number of modern readers.

Inevitably Lt Col Manohar is compared with his contemporaries such as Khushwant Singh, Kamala Markandeya and Mulk Raj Anand. But his writings had a different stamp as he wrote on the conflict between the imperial power and Indians differently. His characterization of the British was always positive.

Manohar Malgonkar carved a niche for himself as a powerful Indian English writer and his books can be still be purchased. Now that he is no more let us salute the man who did the Indian Army proud with his books.


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