Author: Navtej Sarna
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780670082087
In 1839, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, one of India’s greatest rulers, died and his vast empire was plunged into chaos. Less than a decade later, weakened by internecine rivalry and intrigue, Punjab fell into the waiting hands of the British. The ruler, who signed away the kingdom and its treasures, including the famed Koh-i-noor diamond, was an eleven-year-old boy, Duleep Singh, the youngest of Ranjit Singh’s acknowledged sons.
In this nuanced and poignant novel that draws upon true events, Navtej Sarna tells the unusual story of the last Maharaja of Punjab. As the British had annexed his kingdom, Duleep was separated from his mother and his people, taken under British guardianship and converted to Christianity. At sixteen, he was transported to England to live the life of a country squire—an exile that he had been schooled to seek himself.
But disillusionment with the treatment meted out to him and a late realization of his lost legacy turned Duleep into a rebel. He became a Sikh again and sought to return to and lead his people. But the attempt only dragged him into the murky politics of nineteenth- century Europe, and leaving him depleted and vulnerable to deceit and ridicule. He died a lonely, defeated man in a cheap hotel in Paris.
Told in Duleep Singh’s own voice, and the voices of five characters based on his contemporaries, The Exile is a compelling and deeply moving portrait of one of the most tragic figures of Sikh and Indian history. It is, equally, an unsparing examination of British imperialism, and the greed and shortsightedness of the Indian princes that fed it.
'A dextrous mix of fact and fiction by a master storyteller that holds the reader spellbound.'
- Khushwant Singh
In (The Exile) Navtej Sarna presents a gripping tragedy: a sordid tale of intrigue, treachery and cold-blooded murders that greeted the end of the Sikh kingdom, and of the exile to England of its last Maharaja, Duleep Singh…A dextrous mix of fact and fiction by a master storyteller that holds the reader spellbound to the last page.
- Khushwant Singh
Cast of characters
Book One: the dying light
Book Two: The Shish Mahal
Book Three: Deception
Book Four: Elveden
Book Five: The Rebel