Author Khushwant Singh talks about his book "The Opium Toffee" || Book Discussion at Kunzum Bookstore, Vasant Vihar

I came in contact with Mr Khushwant Singh since 2014 when he published Maharaja in Denims. I was one of the reviewers of his book and since then we have been constantly in touch, even thought it was only yesterday, on September 30, 2022, that we actually met in person. Mr Khushwant Singh, who has recently relocated to Chandigarh from Hoshiarpur, was going to be at Kunzum Bookstore in Vasant Vihar to talk about his latest fiction The Opium Toffee.

I came in contact with Mr Khushwant Singh since 2014 when he published Maharaja in Denims. I was one of the reviewers of his book and since then we have been constantly in touch, even thought it was only yesterday, on September 30, 2022, that we actually met in person. Mr Khushwant Singh, who has recently relocated to Chandigarh from Hoshiarpur, was going to be at Kunzum Bookstore in Vasant Vihar to talk about his latest fiction The Opium Toffee

He was kind enough to invite me to open the session, so I was at the venue a few minutes before the start of the event. This gave me the opportunity to not only meet Mr Khushwant Singh, but also Ms. Sanna K Gupta, President, Hoshiarpur Literary Society, Ms Veenu Sandhu, Senior Associate Editor, Business Standard, and Ms Rashmi Menon, Managing Editor, Amaryllis.

He was kind enough to invite me to open the session, so I was at the venue a few minutes before the start of the event. This gave me the opportunity to not only meet Mr Khushwant Singh, but also Ms. Sanna K Gupta, President, Hoshiarpur Literary Society, Ms Veenu Sandhu, Senior Associate Editor, Business Standard, and Ms Rashmi Menon, Managing Editor, Amaryllis. 

It was a Friday evening and people started trickling in slowly. The session opened a few minutes late but to a full house. In my opening talk, I spoke about the themes in The Opium Toffee, read out an excerpt from my review and also read a passage from The Opium Toffee to support my review.

It was a Friday evening and people started trickling in slowly. The session opened a few minutes late but to a full house. In my opening talk, I spoke about the themes in The Opium Toffee, read out an excerpt from my review and also read a passage from The Opium Toffee to support my review. 

....

The conversation between Mr Singh, Ms Gupta and Ms Sandhu began with questions around the themes in the book - patriarchy, addiction, oppression, and courage - in the backdrop of a turbulent Punjab. There was a discussion around the two contrasting female characters, Renee and Shabnam. Sanna asked an interesting question about the stark contrast between these two characters - Renee, who is a victim of patriarchy, and Shabnam, who breaks free from the clutches of patriarchy. To this Mr Singh had an interesting response. As per him, Renee is not a victim of patriarchy, because she herself does not see herself as that. Instead she is a product of patriarchy, part and parcel of it. 

.... 

Sanna also picked up on the three choices that were available to a young Ajit, the male protagonist of the book. These choices were guitar, air gun and pen. And metaphorically, these also represent the choices available to most youth. Ajit ended up picking a pen later in his life. 

There was also a poignant discussion about a tendency in landowning family to prioritize the land and inheritance above family ties. How the older members often influence their nephews negatively, driving them toward addiction, all for the love of land. It was eye-opening to hear this, and quite sad as well. 

Mr Singh is a renowned biographer as well. He has written two biographies - one  the Marathon Runner Mr Fauja Singh, and the second of Captain Amarinder Singh, the former Chief Minister of Punjab. And from here comes the habit of backing everything up with thorough research. Even in case of The Opium Toffee, a book that spans across decades, Mr Singh has got his historical facts right. Ms Sandhu also cited that she had double-clicked on this and in a scene set in the year 1995, a character mentions that they are still getting used to the name "Mumbai". 

It is so inspiring to meet such people who are driven by passion and purpose. They stay on their course with razor-sharp focus, and they stand out in a crowd simply because there is so much substance in them. That is why I love attending book readings and launches. Just a few conversations leave you with so much to dwell upon. 

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