I am not too sure how many of today’s generation would read or would have read Manohar “Mac” Malgonkar or for that matter even heard of him. As a kid I was very fond of his writing and even today I consider him one of India’s finest writers. This is a small tribute to him as his death anniversary dawns on June 14. He passed away at the ripe old age of 97 in 2010. Many years have flown past since I read his books, most of them in the late 1960s and 1970s. The fact that I remember some of the stories so vividly decades later is for me the hallmark of a fine writer. Even to this day, I remember parts of “The Princes” which I thought was his best book. He wrote of India of those times in a way few others could. His books taught me to appreciate historical fiction and I have been extremely fond of this ever since.
Since Malgonkar and John Masters, two of the writers who wrote about India whom I much admired, were both of the old British Indian Army, it was natural that I developed a liking for military history. Malgonkar served in one of India’s oldest regiments, the Maratha Light Infantry.
In fact in my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You” I have characters from the Gorkha Rifles and the Maratha Light Infantry. It’s now clear where this inspiration came from.
I completely agree with this assessment that Malgonkar’s contribution to Indian writing in English remains largely unacknowledged. One of his last books, “ The Men Who Killed Gandhi” is, in my view, a “must read” for anyone interested in contemporary Indian history.
May your soul rest in peace, Mac.