Line of Blood

Dated: June 07, 2017

Balraj Khanna’s fiction Line of Blood was launched in London. He is one of the best-known Indian artists in Europe today. Line of Blood is set in a small town located on what was going to be the border between the two nations following the vivisection of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, the novel is about dark and demonic passion pitted against the values of sanity and tolerance.

“The accident could not have happened at a worse time. There was anger in the air waiting only for a spark. Danger lurking around.  The mood of the Hindu and Sikh peasants was murderous too. The cow, for them, was not just the giver of milk; she was Gomata, a goddess they worshiped. Now, before their eyes, the most revered animal had be slaughtered on the rail. The same animal that was slaughtered by Muslims for sumptuous meals. To add to the misfortune, the hapless train driver was a Muslim man, complete with a macho beard and skullcap.” The body of narration will take you to the real India of that time.

During the launch of the book Editor Ateendriya Gupta pointed out that Balraj Khanna has taken the microcosmic route to retelling a seminal event in history, and yet, he has managed to paint a vivid picture of the times. One of the most emotive writings he has worked on in a while.

Agent Laura Morris termed Line of Blood a ‘powerful, haunting novel that reveals the complexities of Indian Partition, seen through the clear eyes of miller Jyoti and his close-knit loving family. Khanna’s wonderfully vivid characters are never at a loss of words or opinions.’

One of the most poignant Partition narratives, the book captures the pervading fear and uncertinity in the months before the All India Radio brought the announcement to the doctor’s clinic in Puranapur, where tense, anxious men – both Hindu and Muslim – sat around perhaps the town’s only radio.

The writer Paul Pickering says, ‘There is a magnificence about this book which makes one think of Tolstoy. At the end, after all the killing, one is convinced that even the worst men are good underneath, that the massacres and murders are as much due to misunderstandings and mistakes as any darkness in the human soul. In this Line of Blood is a  triumph and truly Dostoyevskian in its greatness.

Khanna won the Winifred Holtby Prize in 1984 for Nation of Fools, which was adjudged one of the Best 200 Novels in English since 1950 in The Modern Library by Carmen Callil and Colm Toibin. As an artist, he has been compared with Paul Klee and Joan Miro. 

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