First Prize of $25,000: Khali Khoohaan di Katha
Novel by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Kbooter, Bnairy te Galian
Short stories by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Ik Raat da Samunder
Short stories by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script)
Avtar, Zubair and Jasbir!
$25,000 CDN First Prize
celebrates the rich culture and
transnational heritage of Punjabi literature
Vancouver, BC (September 22, 2014) – After receiving over 70 eligible entries from 5 countries around the world, the
winner of the $25,000 CDN Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature is Avtar Singh Billing’s novel, Khali Khoohaan di
Katha (The Story of Empty Wells).
Based in Vancouver, Canada, The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature aims to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature
across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world, and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale.
The Dhahan Prize awards $25,000 CDN annually to one “best book in fiction” published in either of the two Punjabi
scripts, Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two runner-up prizes of $5,000 CDN are also awarded, with the provision that both
scripts are represented among the three winners. The Dhahan Prize is awarded by Canada India Education Society
(CIES) in partnership with the Department of Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts at University of British Columbia
(UBC). The prize is funded by an endowment from Barj and Rita Dhahan, and family and friends.
The winners of the inaugural Dhahan Prize in Punjabi Literature are:
First Prize of $25,000: Khali Khoohaan di Katha (Novel) by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Ik Raat da Samunder (Short stories) by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Kbooter, Bnairy te Galian (Short stories) by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script)
“I feel happy and lucky to be the first author to win the prestigious, inaugural Dhahan Prize in Punjabi Literature,” said
Avtar Singh Billing, author of Khali Khoohan di Katha. “[Canada India Education Society] and the University of British
Columbia have really created history by establishing such a unique, international award for Punjabi fiction. I feel proud
that the Punjabi literary world found my sixth novel worthy of this honour.”
Punjabi literature has a long and rich literary heritage and is produced around the world. Barj S. Dhahan, co-founder of
CIES states, “Punjabi has been a Canadian language for 115 years and it is exciting that this prize is uniquely a Canadian
The Prize Advisory Committee has been central to developing an independent and impartial jury of senior writers and
scholars to adjudicate the prize. Professor Anne Murphy, chair of the prize advisory committee explains, “We have three
juries: one to choose Shahmukhi books, one for Gurmukhi books, and one Central Jury that determines the winner. There is no overlap among the juries and the names of members are not disclosed until after adjudication is complete. It is crucial that we always maintain a strong and fair process.”
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Shahumkhi and Gurmukhi content will be added later.