The Best Selling Punjabi Novel: Skeena

skeena-punjabi-cover

I am delighted to share with you the news that my first novel Skeena has become ‘the most-sold Punjabi novel’ of all times in Pakistan. In an email message, Publisher Amjad Salim Minhas said that ‘Sakina is the most sold Punjabi novel Sanjh has ever published; it is also the most sold Punjabi novel in Pakistan’.

This best-selling Shahmukhi Punjabi edition was published in 2007, and it was the most-launched book in Pakistan with events held in nine cities, each in partnership with local writers and literary organisations. This also made it the ‘most reviewed Punjabi book‘; and, the only novel that brought the movement for Punjabi language rights to the fore at each of its launching events.

It is interesting to note that Author Anthony Dalton’s 2011 predictions about Skeena’s English edition are sl–ow–ly but surely coming to pass in Punjabi, though we still have to see how the Gurmukhi edition does in the Indian Punjab where Skeena has never been published or marketed.

My gratitude to the readers, reviewers, peers; the publisher, editor, all members of the production team; and, the funders and supporters of Skeena’s Shahmukhi Punjabi edition for this profound and rewarding experience.

Thank you.

Fauzia
gandholi.wordpress.com
novelskeena.wordpress.com

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Call for Submissions: 2016 Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature Jan 12 – March 15

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Vancouver, BC (January 12, 2016) – Submissions are now open for the Dhahan Prize, the world’s signature prize in Punjabi literature. Authors who have published novels or short story collections in 2015 in either of the Punjabi scripts, Gurmukhi or Shamukhi, are invited to submit their works for the $25,000 CDN first prize. Two second prizes of $5,000 CDN will also be awarded.

Submissions will be accepted between
January 12 – March 15, 2016
Submissions can be made by the author between
January 12 – March 15, 2016
Guidelines and eligibility terms
dhahanprize.com/2016-submissions
Submissions should be made both electronically and in hard copy. Submit electronic version at
dhahanprize.com
Deliver two hard copies of the printed book to
Canada-India Education Society
Unit 1058—2560, Shell Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0B8 Canada

Based in Vancouver, Canada, The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature was established in 2013 to recognize excellence in Punjabi literature, and to inspire the creation of Punjabi writing across borders. The prize is awarded at the international level each year to three books of fiction in Punjabi written in either of the two scripts, Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi.

The Dhahan Prize celebrates the rich culture and transnational heritage of Punjabi language and literature by awarding a yearly prize for excellence in Punjabi fiction. The Prize mission is to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale. The prize was founded by Barj and Rita Dhahan, with support from family, friends, and the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Prize is awarded annually by the Canada India Education Society (CIES).

For more information, visit
dhahanprize.com
Or join the conversation
On Twitter or Facebook
For Media Interviews
Manpreet Dhillon
604-374-3274
contact@dhahanprize.com
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DHAHAN PRIZE 2015: Darshan Singh – Harjeet Atwal – Nain Sukh

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Congratulations to authors Darshan Singh, Harjeet Atwal and Nain Sukh for winning this year’s Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize.

Prize ~ $25,000
Lota (Novel) by Darshan Singh
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Gurmukhi script
Mor Udaari (Novel) by Harjeet Atwal
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Shahmukhi script
Madho Lal Hussain – Lahore Di Vel (Novel) by Nain Sukh

Barj S. Dhahan, the Initiator of the Prize, said that this literary award ‘both opens doors for aspiring Punjabi writers and plays an important role in the preservation and expansion of the Punjabi language and its literature.’

The prizes will be celebrated at these events:

Dhahan Prize Awards Gala
A celebration of this year’s recipients and a keynote by Shauna Singh Baldwin
October 24, 2015 6:30pm
Surrey City Hall
Tickets $20
Facebook: facebook.com/events
Tickets: dhahanprize2015.eventbrite.com
Dhahan Prize Gala Invite 2015

Dhahan Prize Reading
With this year’s authors
October 25, 2015 1:30pm
Waterfront Theatre
Free event, RSVP required
Facebook: facebook.com/events
Reservations: dhahanprizereading2015.eventbrite.com
Dhahan Prize Gala Reading

More information
dhahanprize.com

Previous winners are Khali Khoohaan di Katha by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script), Ik Raat da Samunder by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script), and Kabutar, Banaire te Galian by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script).

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The Sweetest Tale of Doom. Ever!

‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ by Salman Rushdie
1001nights

The Story of Imam Ghazali’s Jinn and Ibn Rushd’s Jinnia (‘jinnani’ in Punjabi) begins with the orthodox Muslim philosopher Imam Ghazali finding a bottle with the spirit of a powerful jinn in it, and the unorthodox Ibne Rushd finding himself in possession of a jinnia who is the princess and the heir-apparent of the jinni world thriving above. The jinn is beholden by the Imam to spread his unreasonable and religious fundamentalist thoughts while the numerous ‘kan-tutta’ offspring of the jinnia and the ‘voice of reason’ must resist those ideas to save themselves and the world.

It is a surprise to read a pleasant and easy-to-get-into story about our fast-approaching environmental and economic disasters while we are suffering the violence unleashed by the warring corporate rulers and militant religious fundamentalists. In an interesting, and often funny way, the reader gets to connect the dots in time, history, ideology, argument, cause, effect. This novel is not just an interesting read but it also makes a perfect artistic tool to fight the threats we face. After The Satanic Verses, this is another literary intervention by Salman Rushdie where he has created something that can be used, in different ways of course, to strengthen secular and equality-seeking trends in the world.

The complexity of the themes of modern life becomes simple when told in the style of a fairy tale. Enjoyable, like all fairy tales, the text is ready to mutate into film, video drama, graphic novel, children’s illustrated book, teen comic book, stage drama, video game, and perhaps, a paperback edition.

I enjoyed Ursula K Le Guin’s review of it (a rare case of one fav doing another), her winks, and the chuckle where she expects that a male author should (could or would?) have explored the delights of motherhood regarding the human-jinnia who had delivered 7, 11 or even 19 children at a time. Yes, i agree, we have been robbed of many hilarious possibilities, but it’s like asking a woman author to expansively gloat in the frolics of mortal men. On second thoughts, may be Le Guin has a point, perhaps only men can speculate motherhood long enough to write something hilarious about it.

Her comment on the jinnia being a ‘man in drag’ provoked some thoughts. Going after one’s descendants or being committed to them can’t be a solely male passion or prerogative; a matriarch would do it perhaps for reasons different than those of the patriarch. Also, from the time the Dunia character appears at the Great Philosopher’s door, to when she re-appears in his grave after a few hundred years, she just keeps doing what she thinks would please him; even, pathetic as it may sound, while she had been missing her offspring she only begins to get them together when the dead philosopher asks her to; she takes her own ‘leading’ role seriously after her father dies and the gardener bails, and then her almost unconditional beyond life-long love for the philosopher guy!! She seems like a weird woman pretending to be a jinnie.

And yes, it is indeed a delightful read, more so because now we have a new fairy tale on the world literary scene. I like that the people who are fighting for rational/equitable solutions in this story, trace their lineage from their mother; and also, that they are not just mix-race but mix-species.

If this present-day fairy tale was in the public domain, i would translate it in Punjabi and Urdu, and make it available in South Asia at different levels of society to inspire artistic interventions.

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook editions.
penguinrandomhouse.com

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com
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Roop Dhillon – Author

Welcome Roop Dhillon
as Author/Contributor
at Uddari Weblog!

roop-dhillon

UK Punjabi writer Roop Dhillon has joined Uddari Weblog as an Author/Contributor. He has published three novels from UK titled ‘Neela Noor’, ‘Bharind’ and ‘Samurai’. Talking about why he decided to learn Punjabi and write in it, he says:

‘This particularly occurred because Professor Khushwant Singh commented that Punjabi was a weak language with insufficient words to describe things. This annoyed me, and I went on a mission to create new words to describe my modern urban environment. This led me to write my first Punjabi novel, Neela Noor, written as a western style novel with anglicized Punjabi grammar reflecting my peers’ use of the language. It is the first Punjabi novel published in the UK; and, it is also significant in that it is secular, set in Pakistan, India and Europe’.

He is passionate about Punjabi, literature, story writing, and most of all– pushing some of those boundaries. 

View Roop’s intro here:
ROOP DHILLON

Review of his novel Bharind

Contact Roop at:
rupinderpal@btinternet.com
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South Asia’s Banned Books

bannedbooksweek

To celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept 21-27), we are presenting a list of books banned by South Asian governments. Find the link to Banned Books Week web page below to view USA’s 10 Most Challenged titles of 2013.

‘Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

‘Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.’
http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about

Most of the following from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments
Some from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2218972.stm

The Hindus: An Alternative History (2014)
Wendy Doniger, History.
Penguin Books India ‘agreed to withdraw from sale all copies of a book that takes an unorthodox view of Hinduism, and will destroy them as part of a settlement after a case was filed against the publisher.’

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India (2011)
Joseph Lelyveld, Biography.
Banned in Gujarat for suggesting that Mahatma Gandhi had a homosexual relationship. Gujarat’s state assembly voted unanimously in favour of the ban in April 2011.

Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence (2009)
Jaswant Singh, Biography.
Temporarily banned in Gujarat, India in August 2009. The ban was overturned by the Gujarat High Court in December 2009.

Islam – A Concept of Political World Invasion (2003)
R. V. Bhasin, Political ideology.
Banned in Maharashtra, India in 2007, after its publishing on grounds that it promotes communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Shivaji – Hindu King in Islamic India (2003)
James Laine, History.
Banned in Indian state of Maharashtra in 2004 for “promoting social enmity”; ban overturned by Bombay High Court in 2007.

Wild Wind (2002)
Taslima Nasrin, Memoir.
Banned in Bangladesh for containing ‘anti-Islamic remarks’.

The True Furqan (1999)
Al Saffee and Al Mahdee, Religious text.
Import into India prohibited on the grounds of threatening national security.

My Girlhood (1999)
Taslima Nasreen, Memoir.
Banned in Bangladesh for containing ‘anti-Islamic remarks’.

Lajja (1993)
Taslima Nasreen, Novel.
Banned in Bangladesh, and in a few states of India.

Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada (1989)
Zuhair Kashmeri & Brian McAndrew, Investigative journalism.
Banned in India.

The Satanic Verses (1988)
Salman Rushdie, Novel.
Banned in the following countries for alleged blasphemy against Islam: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim (1984)
Sunanda Datta-Ray, Non-fiction.
Banned in India. Describes the process of the annexation of the Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim by the Indian government of Indira Gandhi in 1975.

Jinnah of Pakistan (1982)
Stanley Wolpert, Biography.
Banned in Pakistan for recounting Jinnah’s taste for wine and pork.

Understanding Islam through Hadis (1982)
Ram Swarup, Critique of political Islam.
Banned in India

An Area of Darkness (1964)
V. S. Naipaul, Travelogue.
Banned in India for its negative portrayal of India and its people.

Unarmed Victory (1963)
Bertrand Russell, History.
Banned in India. Contains unflattering details of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

Nine Hours To Rama (1962)
Stanley Wolpert, Novel.
Banned in India. It exposes persons responsible for security lapses that led to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

The Heart of India (1958)
Alexander Campbell, Fiction.
Banned by the Indian government in 1959 on grounds of being “repulsive”.

Angaray (1932)
Sajjad Zaheer, Short stories.
Banned in India in 1936 by the British government.

Rangila Rasul (1927)
Pt. Chamupati, Religious.
Banned in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
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First annual Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature – 2014 Winners

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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)

Congratulations!
Avtar, Zubair and Jasbir
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Press Release
$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
undertaking.”

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.”

Visit the English version of the website here:
www.dhahanprize.com
Shahumkhi and Gurmukhi content will be added later.

Download Press Releases
English
SEPT 22 2014 Dhahan Prize Winners
Gurumukhi
September 22 2014 – Dhahan Prize Winners
Shahmukhi
September 22 2014 – Dhahan Prize Winners
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‘Dislocutions: art and translation – Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique

At the Surrey Art Gallery in 2011, i was happy to discuss aspects of my back and forth journey between two languages while writing Skeena. Here is an updated version of it.

frafique-jkvammen2011

Surrey Art Gallery
Dislocutions: a panel discussion on art and translation
October 15, 2011

It is a wonderful location for me to share my experience of writing a novel in two languages where striking and insightful expressions of art by Brendan Fernandes, Digital Natives, Soheila K. Esfahani, Mark Neufeld, Emilio Rojas, Tony Romano, Ming Wong and Dipna Horra are happening, and, here for this discussion we have artists Lorna Brown, Emilio Rojas and Jordan Strom. Thank you for having me.

I will read to you the very first thing that Skeena, the narrator, says to us to begin her story:
My name means different things in different languages. In Arabic, it is the ‘Spirit of Tranquility’ (Sakina), in Hebrew; the ‘Indwelling Feminine Face of Divinity’ (Shekhinah); and in the languages of Native Peoples, the ‘River of Mists’ (Skeena). At this time, I don’t favor one meaning over the other. They make a lot of sense together but if I met a people who associated this sound to a meaning that does not fit my scheme, I will have to pick and choose.

In my mind, with the delivery of its main themes, one of the ‘purposes’ of my novel Skeena was to communicate across cultures and languages. In 1991, when I began writing it in Toronto, I had been in Canada for five years and already I could feel the loss of language at different levels. I cannot say that I experienced loss of culture but I did experience the presence of barriers in seeing across cultures. Barriers were of assumptions and preconceived notions, some mine and some those of others, all coming out of the prejudiced systemic structures that rule both my worlds.

For me, there is no conflict in the fact that I simultaneously own as my homelands both Pakistan and Canada. Within it, I am a Punjabi woman of Muslim family origin from Pakistani side of South Asia who has by now lived in the East and the West Coast of Canada for twenty five years, and who considers Vancouver Lower Mainland her hometown alongwith Lahore. For me, my art must reflect and reveal my evolved identity, my physical locations, my combined cultures, and my deepest thoughts. The stories I am inspired to tell come from, and satisfy, my organic communities in both Canada and Pakistan.

The draft manuscript of Skeena, begun in Toronto in 1991 and completed here in Surrey in 2004, brought together my two languages for me when all its dialogue, about 80% of the whole, was expressed in both English and (roman) Punjabi. A realistic critical literary work of fiction, it required communicating across many cultures, the thoughts and lived realities of a young Muslim Punjabi Canadian woman. In evolving this format, there was my need to reflect/reproduce in English the feel/nuance of conversations taking place in Punjabi. It was most important to do that because dialogue is one of the major ways for the reader to get into a different culture, its stories and people; and, to form our own opinions as readers while we visit and become part of various situations in a novel.

Skeena provides a vibrant context to the lives of people living in different social and cultural environments where they may know some facts about each other but where lived experiences are so different that it is hard sometimes to communicate the meaning of words. The term ‘violence against women’, for example, may not give any clear idea to a person born and raised here in Canada about the extent of violence faced by Muslim women in Pakistan. The same term when used to illustrate the situation of women in present day Canada, may also provide misleading notions to a reader in South Asia. To me, these things cannot be told; they must be experienced. So, Skeena happens in the present, and is steeped in the culture/s of its characters.

As well, there was a desire to involve Punjabi Canadian youth, the second/third/fourth generation, by using a lay-person’s form of roman for Punjabi, similar to the written communication now carried out by Punjabis on facebook, twitter and in texting. It was also geared to overcome the Gurumukhi/Shahmukhi divide in the language, and by offering the dialogue in both Punjabi and English, I was hoping to create a story that could unobtrusively become a beautiful culture-sharing, language-learning tool.

In 2004, the first draft of the novel was complete. An engaging story that begins in Pakistan, ends in Canada; uses both English and Punjabi; and, is captivating in the projection of its themes and subject matter. I felt that the manuscript fulfilled all its purposes. But my editor felt otherwise. She said that it would be tedious for the reader to go through two languages at every dialogue, and, she said that I will be ‘ghettoizing’ my writing if I did not remove the Punjabi.

It took many months of thinking while I worked on my other two novels, to come to a point in 2005 where all Punjabi sentences were removed from English manuscript, and placed in a new file. At that point, I think, I heard an actual sigh of relief from the English manuscript as it was released from the repetitive burden of about 200 pages of Punjabi. Plus, I was overjoyed to see an 80% complete Punjabi manuscript, even when in roman. What an amazing bonus! Skeena gave me the gift of two novels when I was writing one, and my mother language gave me the third, Skeena’s Gurumukhi edition via script-conversion. But that happens a little later.

After Punjabi sentences were removed, numerous Punjabi/Urdu/Arabic/Persian words and terms remained in the 2005 manuscript because I thought the reader may like some flavour of languages without being stalled by them. I sent this manuscript to a couple of friends including one in California who went ahead to read over the phone, a couple of scenes from the second section, to a mutual friend in Pakistan who happened to be a writer, editor and publisher. Zubair Ahmad, who later edited the Punjabi ms of Skeena, was taken by the passages he heard over the phone, and invited me to come to Pakistan to translate it in Punjabi for publication. I left for Pakistan in early 2006.

Zubair Ahmad asked me an important question: which language did I use to ‘perceive/imagine’ the story. My thoughtful reply to him was ‘English’ since the novel was perceived, told and written in English. But that was half the truth because all dialogue by and among Punjabi characters was mind-developed in Punjabi, written in roman on the page, and then rendered in English.

In about six months of full time work, a Punjabi Shahmukhi manuscript was ready for publication. Daily I translated a few pages, and worked with the editor to finalize them. It was a powerful and learning experience for me in many different ways. First, the creative space that evolved between the Writer, the Editor, and the Publisher was conducive to both fine-ness and speed. The result was a satisfying manuscript that was then published by Sanjh Publications in Lahore in 2007. Second, something i never expected or knew that could happen though Zubair Ahmad had predicted it: After 1975-76 when I had adapted from English to Punjabi Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novelette ‘The Poor Folk’ for Pakistan Television, I had not had the chance to do any major work in Punjabi except for two incomplete novels and a couple of unpublished short stories. Now suddenly, during translating Skeena in Lahore, a fountain of Punjabi words and terms began to sprout in my mind, even words that I thought I never knew. With it, a whole lot of Punjabi poems began to surface. Some of them are part of my (out-of-print) chapbook ‘Passion Fruit/Tahnget Phal’ (Surrey 2011)*.

I returned to Canada in 2007, and began to work on the English manuscript referencing it with the published Punjabi version. The detail became clearer at every step. The English manuscript became freer of all kinds of weaknesses in expression, content and style. In Lahore, as I was converting dialogue from lay-roman to Shahmukhi script, and translating narrative from English to Punjabi, I had felt that all the remaining weaknesses/gaps, the things i call the ‘lies’ of a manuscript, in concept, style, structure or expression, were revealed to me (i remember wondering if it’ll at all be ‘practical’ to run this same ‘test of translation’ on my other two English novels). I found that it’s really hard to translate an unfamiliar action or concept from one language to another, and even harder to translate an unclear one. I have examples of both.

In the first section that takes place in a village in Pakistani Punjab, a character makes a common (in Punjab) gesture of seeking forgiveness from Allah where certain fingertips are placed on the tongue and then on the lower ear tips with the word ‘tauba’ meaning ‘forgiveness’. It took many agonizing attempts before I could come to this, with the help of my editor, i presume.
Allah Forgiveness!’ He touches his tongue with both his first finger tips, and then touches his ears with them’. 
But I was not happy with it because in Punjabi, it was effortless:
Allah Maafi!’ Oh unglaN de poTay jeebh te rakh ke kannaN noon laanday naiN’.
Later, back in Canada in 2007-08 when I was referencing the English manuscript with the published Punjabi version, the above English sentence also became better.
‘Allah Forgiveness!’ He places his fingertips on his tongue, and then touches his ears with them. (Skeena, Section 1, 17. Libros Libertad, Surrey 2011)

The second example is of another difficult point that benefitted from the act of translation. This is what I had in 2005 in a para, again from the first section, and with the same character:
SaeeN Jee is lying unconscious. His cheeks are blotched with surma kohl from his eyes, and his white and orange hair is sticky with sweat. But the scariest is his mouth with his dandasa-orange lips stretched over sparkling white teeth biting a light brown piece of wood.
However painful in English, it’s rendering in Punjabi flows perfectly. Later, still bumpy, it does become a bit better in English:
SayeeN Jee is unconscious. The run-down kohl from his eyes has blotched his cheeks, and his henna-coloured white and red hair is sticky with sweat. But the scariest is his mouth where his walnut-tree-barked orange lips are stretched around a jaw revealing sparkling white teeth over a brown horizontal piece of firewood. (Skeena, Section 1, 18. Libros Libertad, Surrey 2011)

The manuscript was accepted by a publisher in 2010, and the very first editorial ‘suggestion’ was to remove all non-English words. I expected it but there’s no harm in trying. I removed most of the words within a couple of days but even then so many remained. Several methods were applied; explaining the word in text, putting meaning beside it, coming up with an acceptable translation, and re-doing the sentence. It had to be done this way, and in stages, so that the manuscript did not get scratched or injured by the extraction or addition. I am grateful to its editors and publishers in Lahore, Surrey and Vancouver for their support in letting me find suitable solutions for each instance.

Going through the editing of the Gurumukhi version of Skeena with Editor/Author Surjeet Kalsey in 2010, I realized that there were a large number of Arabic/Urdu/Persian words that would be new or unclear to the Gurumukhi reader whose cultural reference is Sikhism with language influences coming from Hindi/Sansikrit. We did contemplate adding meaning of some words but the task seemed larger than the time available. Also, how some words are written differently in Shahmukhi, and, questions if they should be left as they are or changed to the prevalent Gurumukhi convention. May be these issues will be addressed when Skeena’s Gurmukhi edition actually publishes from India.

In poetry, i find that my voice changes from one language to the other. In Punjabi, it easily links to the folk, and the emotion; in English, it is a bit blunt, unwilling to express deep emotion. Mainly because, as I was saying to Jordan Strom, so far I have had many funerals in Punjabi but not many in English, so when a woman is stoned to death or buried alive, my experience of mourning and sadness will likely find expression in Punjabi, and my anger and outrage in English. This, I guess, somewhat has to do with the privilege of being a first generation immigrant who continues to own both my languages and all my chosen Pakistani Canadian cultural values.

My current projects include a translation of Madholal Hussain’s selected Punjabi poetry in English, and some of my favourite English poems to Punjabi.

Fauzia Rafique Surrey 2011
http://gandholi.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique
@RafiqueFauzia

Photo by Janet Kvamman 2011 (treated)
*Now in an upcoming collection of Punjabi poetry.
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Book Review – Punjab: A History From Aurangzeb to Mountbatten

title-rajmohan-gandhi

Written by Randeep Singh

Punjab: A History From Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (Rajmohan Gandhi, Aleph Book Company, New Delhi: 2013).

Gandhi’s Punjab surveys the history of the region from the decline of the great Mughals to the invasions of Afghan rulers and Nadir Shah to the reign of Ranjit Singh and the British Raj to the creation of independent India and Pakistan in 1947. The book is engaging, commendable for its scope and brings to the foreground figures like Adina Beg Khan, Ganga Ram and Fazl-i-Hussain who are otherwise passed over in Indian histories on the region.

From the outset, Gandhi underlines the importance of understanding a common Punjabi identity (‘Punjabiyat’) through centuries of foreign invasion and colonial rule. Unfortunately, his history, coloured by colonial and nationalist historiography, produce a distorted picture of the Punjabi.

In categorizing Punjabis before the 19th century as either Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, Gandhi replicates the colonial-era practice of classifying Punjabis (and Indians at large) solely by their religious identity forgetting that Punjabis before the colonial era typically defined themselves by their clan, village and caste. Such a categorization overlooks the diversity amongst and overlap between Punjabis and the extent to which they cooperated with one another across religious lines as under Adina Beg Khan, Ranjit Singh or in the Punjab’s Unionist Party.

Gandhi’s chapters on independence and partition moreover largely follow the contours of the Indian nationalist narrative. He adopts a critical tone towards the Muslim League in the making of the Partition without questioning in the same breadth the politics of the Indian National Congress and the British. Such a filtering of history is unlikely to advance understanding between Punjabis of India and Pakistan.

All this despite Gandhi’s reminder to us throughout of  a Punjabiyat symbolized by Farid, Waris Shah, Amrita Pritam and Shiv Kumar. His own history could have contributed greatly to that Punjabiyat and to Punjab studies. One can only hope that Gandhi’s Punjab will inspire more balanced histories on the region in the years ahead.

 

 

 

 

Call For Submissions: Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – March 15/14

For months, i have watched with apprehension and excitement the development of Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize, and now after its launch(es) i am happy to report that it is indeed a giant(!) leap(!) forward for Punjabi literature. Not just because the prize money is substantial at $25,000 (all scripts, and with two runner-ups of $5,000, one each for Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi), but also because it is one of the few initiatives that recognizes Punjabi in it’s totality and so claims the history and development of its literature across scripts, national/ethnic boundaries, and religious divides.

Submission Guidelines
Date January 15 – March 1 (online), with hard-copies due by March 15.
Format PDF version and a Printed Copy
Genre Fiction – novels, novellas, short story collections
Edition Original first editions only. Reprints or translations are not eligible.
Publishing Date During 2013
Books Published by ‘recognized’ and ‘independent’ publishers only. No self-published books.

Download Call for Submissions
English
Gurumukhi
Shahmukhi
(Note revised date: Jan 15 – March 1 (online), with hard-copies due by March 15)

Uddari fully supports this wonderful initiative as it is one of the fruits of our labour. Dhahan Prize is so valuable because it recognizes:
. Punjabi writers anywhere in the World. In South Asia and outside.
. Punjabi literature in both its major scripts, Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi.
. Importance of fiction, long and short, in the development of a literature.
. Rights of Punjabi writers by offering them the first yearly living wage.

The Prize will for sure get some serious attention from Punjabi writers around the world where only a few can or have depended on their creative writing for a living. I am talking about those stubborn people who insisted on writing in Punjabi when their world was pushing it aside and saying that there’s no future in writing in Punjabi; the people who were told by non-royalties-paying Punjabi publishers that their work is not good enough for money; and, that not many wanted to read them anyway.

Dhahan Prize will create a surge in the readership of Punjabi books because writers are the very first readers of books.

At Uddari Weblog, we are in a celebratory mode because Dhahan Prize strengthens many of our goals and objectives.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
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Related posts on Uddari
Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – Launch Vancouver Oct 8/13
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Thanks Giving for Books

This November, we are motivated to remember the books that made a difference in our lives, and to offer thanks to the authors for writing them. Giving thanks below are Mariam Zohra Durrani, Sonja Grgar, Sana Janjua, Randeep Purewall and Fauzia Rafique.
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My ‘loved’ books

Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos Castenada
Affirmed personal metaphysical philosophy

Native Son, Richard Wright
Increased sociopolitical awareness about north america.

Primitive Offense, Dionne Brande
Influenced poetic work.

Sula, Toni Morrison
Touched by sula and toni.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
Healing; reincarnation of my ancestors and homeland.

Incognito, David Eagleman
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

A Woman’s Herbalist, Kitty Campion
Gave knowledge of herbs and techniques and concoctions.

Mariam Zohra Durrani
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Books I am thankful for

Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, Diana Johnstone
Academically rigorous exploration of the role of the West and NATO in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, and one that exposes many of the propagandist depictions of Serbia that were promoted by western mainstream media during that time.

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
Artful and heartbreaking account of the effects of holocaust on those who have survived it, and on those of Jewish identity in general.

Anna Karenina , Leo Tolstoy
Complex and beautifully philosophical portrait of 19th century Russia and stifling social norms that drive its heroine to her demise.

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Stunningly eloquent and touching portrayal of the immigrant experience in America, and the complexities of composite cultural identities.

The Tyranny of E-mail, John Freeman
A much needed and rare critical look at the often blindly celebrated cyber world we live in.

Geographies of a Lover, Sarah de Leeuw
An incredibly skillful book of erotic poetry that uses the raw imagery of BC landscape as a metaphor for the vigour and fullness of female sexuality

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
A raw and brave account of a Pakistani woman’s life back home and in Canada, unflinching in its critical portrayal of patriarchy and chauvinism in both societies, yet laced with a warm, yet never sentimental, homage to the lead protagonist’s homeland

Sonja Grgar
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I love these books

In the Skin of Lion, Micheal Ondaatje

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth

The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon, the God

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Black, George Elliot Clarke

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi

The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Anderson

Blindness, Jose Saramago

Native Son, Richard Wright

Sana Janjua
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Thankful for the following books

A Diary of a Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
It’s hilarious, a delightful and touching “light” read. I come back to it time and time again, probably because of its main character, Charles Pooter who is one of the great figures in English comic literature.

Dream of a a Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin
Reading this book was an experience. I almost felt like I was living the life of its characters, set in 19th century China. And the supernatural Buddhist/Daoist themes lend it a “timeless,” mysterious feel.

Deewan-i-Ghalib, Ghalib
I am still reading and learning Ghalib’s verses. His poetry is complex, challenging and captivating. His verses can be philosophical, melancholic and irreverant, telling us not only much about Ghalib’s life but of the twilight of the Mughal era.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
This was my first Punjabi novel (which I actually read in its English edition). It was a novel that not only made an old literature sound contemporary but one that did so poignantly without being sentimental. The scenes in the novel are etched in my memory and I enjoyed how it dealt with “political” themes like class, poverty and patriarchy, without ever once sounding political.

Randeep Purewall
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Thankful for every book read (to the end), but for some, more so.

Kafian, Madholal Hussain
Shah Hussain’s (Punjabi) poems emerged as songs in my childhood. Later, i realized, Kafian speaks to my totality in some way as it gives me a perspective to view and experience life. From then to now, if planning to travel for over a week, Kafian comes with me because it’s home.

Diwan-e-Ghalib, Assadullah Khan Ghalib
Mirza Ghalib’s collection of (Urdu) poems came upon me a little later than Kafian but in similar ways, and though a very different flavour, it also is a continuous source of pleasure and profundity.

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
Though i love Sartre’s trilogy The Roads to Freedom, thanks must be given for Nausea that I read in early youth and there it made me understand why i was feeling nauseous all the time.

After, i found two incredible books that helped me to make sense of the world that was unfolding in the ’70s, notes on alienation in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx and The Second Sex by Simone de Bouvois. Much gratefulness for both.

Power, Linda Hogan
Thanks to Linda Hogan for all her novels, they allowed me to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the lived lives of her characters. As well, because in Toronto in the ’90s, i was having this recurring image of an upside down tree with roots as branches, and it was disturbing me to the point where i began to mention it to friends including poet Connie Fife, who later brought me three novels by Linda Hogan. And unbelievable though it was, i found the exact scene of an upside down tree in one. There also was a reason for it: a storm, and there were people who were able to deal with it. I did not understand why i was having it, i still don’t, but the stress went away.

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Special thanks to Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses (with Midnight’s Children and Shame since they come out from and flow into each other), the work that launched a strong and permanent literary assault on religious bigotry and its contexts of oppression; the telling of a story that showed us what literature can do. In its aftermath, the Author’s insistence on our right to freedom of expression, to discuss and to confront extremism, continues to strengthen the secular movement. The usage and expression is as revolutionary as the content. The Satanic Verses also is my most valued Banned Book.

The Beloved, Toni Morrison
Thanks to Toni Morrison for The Beloved, an unbelievable story of courage and endurance, of heroic survival and resistance, that claimed from me all the buried emotions of women’s system-sanctioned stoning-lynching-gangraping deaths, confinement and torture. I’m in awe of Toni Morrison for telling this story the way she has though i may not dare read it again.

Fauzia Rafique
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Inspired by
PEN American Centre‘s Facebook post ‘Giving Thanks for Books’
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Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – Launch Vancouver Oct 8/13

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
The Golden Jubilee Room
(Irving K Barber Learning Centre)
UBC, 1961 East Mall
Free & open to the public
Poetry Readings in Punjabi/English
Fauzia Rafique and Ajmer Rode
DIPLP – Prize Program – Vancouver Launch

The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize has been founded to celebrate the rich history and living present of Punjabi language and literature, around the globe. A cash prize of $25,000 CDN will be awarded annually to one ‘best book’ in either Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two runner-up prizes of $5,000 CDN will be awarded, one for each script. Winners will be honored at an annual Gala, held in Vancouver in its inaugural year and at alternative host cities around the world subsequently.

The Prize will be awarded by Canada India Education Society (CIES) in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC). CIES has an over twenty-year history of success in leading educational, community development, healthcare and job creation projects in India. Guided by a strong interest in Punjab, the Society partners in this venture with the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts at UBC, which is home to one of the largest and longest standing Punjabi language programs outside of South Asia. The aim of this partnership is to highlight the literature of a rich and passionate language that can speak not only to Punjabis around the world, but to all.

The success of the Scotiabank Giller prizes in fostering recognition of Canadian literature encouraged the formation of the Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize. The Dhahan Prize will expose a neglected cultural product to a new market – the global Punjabi population – and draw attention to transnational cultural production that crosses borders and community boundaries. It will not only directly benefit writers and inspire new writing in the language, but also bring new attention to writing in Punjabi in general, within a broader community. The Prize will entice new readership and ideally, the translation of works from Punjabi into English. It will also bring crucial material support to writers already active in the field.

Punjabi literature speaks in a language we can all understand; this Prize will give us a chance to hear it.

India Launch
November 11th, Evening
J.W. Marriott Chandigarh
Plot no: 6, Sector 35-B, Dakshin Marg · Chandigarh, 1600 35 India
The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize
will be awarded on an annual basis to honor
the finest literary works produced each year in the Punjabi language.
Please RSVP by November 6th to info@cies.ca

Pakistan Launch
November 14th, Evening
Hospitality Inn Lahore
(Formerly Holiday Inn Lahore)
25-26 Egerton Road Lahore 54000
The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize
will be awarded on an annual basis to honor
the finest literary works produced each year in the Punjabi language.
Please RSVP by November 10th to info@cies.ca

DIPLP – Prize Brochure
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‘A Night for the Lady’ by Joanne Arnott – Reading & Book Launch Van Sept 19/13

A Night for the Lady launch invite3_page1_image3

Book launch

September 19 at 7 p.m.
On Edge Reading Series
Emily Carr University
Room SB 406
1399 Johnston Street
Granville Island, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9

As with all On Edge readings
there will be time for discussion/Q&A

Refreshments will be served

Joanne Arnott
‘A Night for the Lady’ (Ronsdale Press) explores the terrain of poetry conversation. Playful, erotic and occasionally harrowing, this collection bundles together experimental and inspirational work from a longstanding voice of conscience in Canadian letters.

Gregory Scofield
Few figures in Canadian history have attained such an iconic status as Louis Riel. Celebrated Metis poet Gregory Scofield takes a fresh look at Riel in his new collection, ‘Louis: The Heretic Poems’ (Nightwood Editions), challenging traditional conceptions of Riel as simply a folk hero and martyr. By juxtaposing historical events and quotes with the poetic narrative,Scofield draws attention to the side of the Metis leader that most Canadians have never contemplated: that of husband, father, friend and lover, poet and visionary.

Link to Arnott’s blog invitation

http://joannearnott.blogspot.ca/2013/09/a-night-for-lady.html

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facebook.com/UddariWeblog
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‘Love and Bones’ by Bonnie Nish – Book Launch Vancouver Sept 20/13

loveandbones-cover

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LOVE AND BONES – BOOK LAUNCH
Friday September 20th, 2013!
7PM
St. Marks Church
1805 Larch Street, Vancouver BC

Poetry by Bonnie Nish
Cover Photo by Mark L. Tompkins
Publisher Karma Press
Love and Bones has been lovingly edited by
Sita Carboni, Mary Duffy, Evelyn Lau
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The night will begin with a few words from Evelyn Lau and be MC’d by Dennis E. Bolen with musical entertainment from Sharon McIntee-Birrell and Michael Peacock.

‘Remembrance and wonder imbue this debut collection of poetry that delves deep to explore “all that is carried in marrow” –from a child’s memories of the family home to a grandparent’s experience of the Holocaust. In poems about family and intimate relationships that are replete with rich images that reveal the complex tapestry of human connection and disconnection, Nish offers us the “eternal pictures” left behind by those we love.” ~ Fiona Tinwei Lam

“Love and Bones is aglow with every kind of love — love of parents, love of the romantic other, love of children, love of cultural inheritance, love of poetry, love of the implacable mysteries of life. On every page of this book you will see how poems can give passionate utterance to the depth, intricacy, and power of authentic human feeling. You will see also how the signature note in these pieces is one of praise. Out of regret, dark recesses of sadness, and mourning come elation, affirmation, and transformative creative joy as in a kind of miracle. This is an utterly moving, nuanced collection full of images and lyrical turns that match the orders of emotion it evokes — and mark it as an imaginative triumph.” ~ Russell Thornton

Bonnie Nish is the Founder and Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society a charitable organization in the literary arts based in Vancouver British Columbia. She is also Executive Producer of the Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival an outdoor festival now in its tenth year. Published widely you may view some of her work (both poetry, prose and book reviews) in “The Toronto Quarterly”, “Quills,” “WordWorks,” and on-line at Haunted Waters Press, blueprintreview.com, hackwriters.com and greenboathouse.com. Bonnie has a Masters in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate School.

Contact
blnish_pandoras@yahoo.ca
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uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/UddariWeblog
@UddariWeblog
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