By John Skinner
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Extra info for The Stepmother Tongue: An Introduction to New Anglophone Fiction
This action increases communal tensions, so that Sikh leaders reluctantly demand the temporary evacuation of Muslim villa gers to the nearby refugee camp; the authorities (headed by Hukum Chand) have already anticipated that this will lead to the safer expedient of a permanent move to Pakistan. Further evidence of massacres in the area appears when the monsoon-swollen river sweeps more butchered Hindu and Sikh Asia 47 corpses past Mano Majra. A group of Sikh commandos arrives to incite the villagers, who eventually agree to ambush a refugee train bound for Pakistan and slaughter its Muslim passengers.
The same heroism from a simple and humble protagonist characterizes the early fiction of Khushwant Singh, a London-trained lawyer with a long journalistic career behind hirn. Khushwant has published several collections of short stories and three novels. Train to Pakistan (1956) is the classic account of Indian Partition in 1947; I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale (1959) is the story of a Sikh family, set at the same period; whilst Delhi (1989) is a massive historical evocation of the Indian capital through various points in its history.
The four countries, in certain respects, divide conveniently into pairs. Australia and New Zealand are similar in their geographical situation, their large white English-speaking majorities, their now correspondingly small aboriginal populations, and their history of European settlement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Canada and South Africa are less homogeneous (not least for the latter's large black majority), although they each contain, in addition to one mainly anglophone population of European origin, another substantial white ethnic group, speaking an Indo-European language and claiming a colonial his tory considerably longer than that of their English-speaking neighbours.