Indian writer, editor Khushwant Singh dies at 99

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 5:47 am •  Published: March 20, 2014
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NEW DELHI (AP) — Khushwant Singh, a journalist, editor and prolific writer whose work ranged from serious histories to joke collections to one of post-Independence India's great novels, died Thursday at his New Delhi apartment, his daughter said. He was 99.

Singh, who continued writing until shortly before his death, "passed away peacefully at home," said his daughter Mala Singh.

A gleeful provocateur whose love of the limelight competed constantly with his disdain for fame, Singh was a self-proclaimed failure in law and diplomacy who turned to writing in the 1950s, soon after India's 1947 independence, and quickly became a force in Indian journalism and literary circles. He remained one of the country's best-known writers for more than six decades.

The son of a wealthy builder, Singh had a famously patient wife, a newspaper column that skewered everything from corrupt politicians to desk calendars, and a sign outside his apartment door that warned: "Please do not ring the bell unless you are expected."

"He lived a truly creative life," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tweeted after the death was announced.

Singh, who often said he regretted not having sex with enough women, was one of the first modern Indian novelists to openly discuss sexuality, using often-graphic descriptions that made generations of readers blush.

"I've been called a dirty old man and it doesn't bother me one bit," he said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, when age and illness had begun to slow him, and a new generation of writers often regarded him as a literary relic.

Not that he cared much. Bad reviews were little more than flies to be swatted away.

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