Death of a Reader

Sham Lal, who introduced a generation of readers in the years between 1950- 1970s to books and literature via his column Life and Letters is dead.

A collection of his newspaper columns was published as A Hundred Encounters, which was a collection around works of fiction. Subsequently a collection around non- fiction works was also published. A Hundred Encounters was a wonderful treat for someone who was at best a toddler during his peak years and did not have the good fortune of growing up reading his column Life and Letters.

I came close to meeting him few years back, when MS, knowing my love for books- and the penchant for writing book reviews- asked me to accompany him to his house. For some reason, I could not go. Don’t remember why.

Mr. Sham Lal began his career with the Hindustan Times and, after 12 years with that paper, he moved on to the Times of India. He served as the Editor of the Times of India from 1967 to 1978.

He earned great journalistic reputation with his column, “Life and Letters.” In this column, he discussed and dissected modern thinkers, poets, playwrights and novelists. In 2001, a collection of these columns was published under the title “A Hundred Encounters.” He was known for his strong and independent views.

After his retirement, Mr. Sham Lal continued to write occasionally for The Telegraph and a journal, “Biblio: A Review of Books.” Failing eyesight forced him to stop writing three years on

4 thoughts on “Death of a Reader

  1. sad to hear about it. I had bought A hundred encounters without knowing anything about him, and i simply couldn’t believe that those essays and columns were published in a newspaper once…!! I couldn’t get around to reading his other collection about indian issues.

    I think he also kept writing a column for the telegraph until very recently.

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