Skeena: first novel to be launched in English and Punjabi

P R E SS R E L E A S E
LIBROS LIBERTAD ANNOUNCES THE PUBLICATION OF NEW FICTION

NEW FICTION
05-04-2011
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Fauzia Rafique
Skeena
You are invited to the launch of Skeena, a novel by Fauzia Rafique. Skeena is the first Canadian novel to be launched in English and Punjabi. The launches will take place this weekend in Surrey and Vancouver on April 9 and April 10.

The launch in Surrey on April 9 (2 – 4 PM, Newton Branch of Surrey Public Library, (604) 598-7400), presents the novel in both Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi (Perso-Arabic) scripts.
Program
Poetry Readings by Greek Canadian Surrey-based Author and Publisher Manolis to launch his 12th collection of poetry ‘Vernal Equinox’ (Ekstasis Editions, Victoria 2011). Manolis will also present a selection of his translation of Yannis Ritsos, the Star of Lenin, Poetry Prize Award winning Greek poet.
Readings from ‘Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique
Guest Speakers on ‘Skeena’
Sadhu Binning, Bhupinder Dhaliwal, Surjeet Kalsey, Dr. Saif Khalid, Shahzad Nazir Khan, Ajmer Rode
Discussion and Refreshments
Event Host: Sana’s Janjua

The launch of English edition of Skeena will take place in Vancouver on April 10 (2 – 4 PM, Hellenic Community Center, 4500 Arbutus. Tel: 604-266-7148).
Program
Book Launch ‘Vernal Equinox’
Poetry Readings by Manolis, a Greek Canadian author who has published 12 collections of poetry, two novels and numerous pieces of prose in Greek and English, will launch his latest poetry collection ‘Vernal Equinox’, Manolis will also present a selection of his translation of Greek poet Yannis Ritsos who was unsuccessfully nominated for a Nobel Prize nine-times but was not awarded it because of his progressive views.
Book Launch ‘Skeena’
Reading by Fauzia Rafique
Guest Speakers on ‘Skeena’
Anne Murphy, Anthony Dalton, Farah Shroff, Indira Prahst and Sunera Thobani
Discussion and Refreshments
Event Host
Valerie B.-Taylor

Skeena is the story of a Muslim Canadian woman spanning thirty years of her life where she explores her changing environments, religious and cultural influences, and intimate relationships. Told by Skeena herself, it is a rare glimpse into the mind and perspectives of a Muslim woman. With the utter simplicity of style and expression, and a plot immersed in gripping realities, Fauzia has created a novel that is hard to put down even when it explodes some deep-rooted myths.

Based in the dynamics of Muslim Punjabi culture, the story begins in a village in Pakistani Punjab in 1971, takes us to Lahore in 1981, Toronto in 1991, and then brings us to Surrey in 2001. Skeena’s story involves Punjabi Canadians from both India and Pakistan.

Skeena has been published in Punjabi (Shahmukhi) from Pakistan in 2007 where it was launched in nine cities, and has received high acclaim. The Gurumukhi edition of Skeena is published by Uddari Books from Surrey this year. For information and updates on the three editions of Skeena, go to http://novelskeena.wordpress.com/

In this deeply human and heartwrenching novel, loneliness and loss are felt, but Rafique provides gentle humour and a great deal of hope. In Skeena, Rafique teaches us about life and love. You will find yourself thinking about Skeena long after you have finished reading.
Lisa Collins, Editor, Vancouver

Fauzia Rafique’s novel Skeena is written differently than the others, the author has begun and completed this work with the full witnessing of the time.
Parveen Malik, Author/Publisher, Lahore

Skeena is a novel on patriarchy that never uses this word.
Kishwar Naheed, Poet, Islamabad

Fauzia Rafique is a Vancouver-based South Asian Canadian writer of fiction and poetry. Her English and Punjabi writings have been published in Canada, Pakistan, and on the web. Print titles include the Punjabi publication of Skeena (Lahore 2007) and an anthology Aurat Durbar: The Court of Women: Writings by Women of South Asian Origin (Sumach Press, 1995). A selection of her English and Punjabi poetry, Passion-Fruit/Tahnget-Phal will be out in 2011.

Order Skeena Online: http://www.libroslibertad.ca/book.php?id=42

Contact Libros Libertad for details or to arrange appearances, events or media opportunities.
info@libroslibertad.ca
1-604-838-8796.

Check out other recent releases at www.libroslibertad.ca
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Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1

The PLEA Event: Need for Capacity Building

Celebrations for the 7th Mother Language Day included an event organized by Punjab Language Education Association (PLEA) in Surrey last month that presented a community panel discussion and a speech/song contest for young Punjabis.

It was a prideful pleasure for me to hear children and teens deliver speeches, recite poems and sing songs in Punjabi. Aman Taggar’s power-point presentation was insightful where he supported the use of term ‘MaaNboli’ to represent other dialects and languages of the Punjab. However, for me, the most important aspect of the event was the initiation of discussion here in BC on issues faced by Punjabi Canadians from Pakistan.

The PLEA has been serving (cultural) Sikh Punjabi Canadians from India in the Greater Vancouver area for fifteen years, now it responds to the changing needs of Punjabis by acknowledging (cultural) Muslim Punjabi Canadians. The two communities together represent over 90% of all Punjabis, and democratic progressive people on both sides continue to struggle hard to remove barriers to the development of Punjabi MaaNboli and our cultures. In that, we continue to be snared by the interests of the imperialists in the geographic location of the Punjab, the divisive policies of the federal/provincial governments of India and Pakistan, and the violence of our respective extreme ‘right wing’ political formations.

Punjabi communities in Canada are susceptible to the impact of these determinants. We often carry the same prejudices about each other, and indeed about others, in our mainstream cultures here as we do back in India and Pakistan. To overlook, if not mis-represent, each other in our histories, curriculum, classrooms, discussions, is one such impact. An example of it confronted me early last year in the form of UBC’s two-day Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature where Punjabi literature written in Shahmukhi was neither represented nor acknowledged at any level. My post Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!, and then, ‘Sanjh’ A New Punjabi Literary Magazine point to such omissions.

Canada is home to 800,000 Punjabis, making Punjabi the Fourth ‘most spoken’ language in the country (0.8%) after English (67.1%), French (21.5%) and Chinese (2.6%). Vancouver Lower Mainland and Metro Toronto account for the majority of Punjabis with Surrey (Newton) being the most dense. In all these areas, Punjabi communities from Pakistan have also been growing, and signs of it are apparent in various cultural and political activities organized in the past few months in Surrey by Fraser Valley Peace Council and Bazm-e-Amno-Adab.

The five members of the ‘Pakistani Panel’, as we called ourselves, gave brief personal views on the issues faced by Pakistani Punjabis in Canada. Please click over and see the discussion in the official report of the PLEA event. Here, i want to reiterate my recommendations. The suggestion was for the PLEA and other educational and cultural organizations to implement capacity building in existing programs and services by including, for example, literature written in Shahmukhi and its writers in the discourse on Punjabi literature; to expand existing Punjabi language courses to offer them in both Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi where students may go on to specialize in one script.

Capacity building is an important step forward for the development of Punjabi MaaNboli languages in BC. So far, my appreciation goes to Sadhu Binning and Anne Murphy at UBC for being responsive on this issue, and by making attempts to be inclusive and wholesome in their efforts to develop Punjabi.

While looking for stats on Punjabi, i found this:
‘As of 2006, the population of surrey is 394,976, a 13.6 percent increase from the 2001 population. The foreign-born population is 150,235, constituting 30.28 percent of the city’s population. Visible minorities number 181,005 or 46.1 percent of the population, while Aboriginals constitute 1.9 percent of the population.’ (Wikipedia)

I am not sure how rejoiced i can be at our ever growing numbers in Surrey while the numbers of native peoples, who ‘owned’ Fraser Valley, are persistent in going down.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

References
Celebrates International Mother Language Day
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_Town_Centre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey,_British_Columbia
Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!
‘Sanjh’ A New Punjabi Literary Magazine
http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/analysis/language/allophone_cma.cfm

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
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UBC Students of Punjabi Literature, Delightful Performers!

This post was going to indulge in a discussion on different ways to further develop Punjabi literary communities in Canada with reference to the UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature but then Sadhu Binning sent me photos that brought back all the smiles and laughs drawn by a skit performed by the ‘junior’ students of Punjabi at that Conference.

The package also includes an expected group photo with newly emptied tables that i am happy to present to you here.

UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature, First Day

For the rest, please stay posted.

The skit ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’ was presented by the UBC students of Punjabi to celeberate the life long tenure of their teacher Sadhu Binning. A 20-delightful-minute long exploration of all available career options of a retired South Asian Canadian teacher of Punjabi literature in Vancouver, the skit was a light-hearted view of a teacher and the system.

Before we proceed further, it will be helpful to see this mobile-phone photo of a youth who could so easily project the body language of his teacher.

Sandhler as Mr. BinningShamsher Sandlas, the ‘Mr. Binning’, ready to hail Nasiruddin Shah?

The ‘Mr. Binning’ character played by Shamsher Sandlas brings out all of Sadhu’s laid back mannersim where though disinterested in climbing social ladders, he does oblige Mrs. Binning (Rupinder Gosal) time and again by giving a good shot to each presented career choice by turning it into a viable opportunity. From making an on-the-spot call to Actor Om Puri in India and arriving there for an audition on the next flight from Canada- to playing golf with BC Liberal Politician Ujjal Dosanj as a career move- to going all out for a chance to become a Punjabi Pop Singer- Mr. Binning tries everything with mild enthusiasm, and good-natured submission to various hiring requirements. Yet he FAILs at everything. This leaves an open stage and eight happy artists to ponder over various new possibilities.

The Seven UBC Students who predict Sadhu Binning’s post-retirement career options as being NIL. Shamsher Sandlas (Mr. Binning), Rupinder Gosal (Mrs. Binning, in red shirt), Daljit Mahal (Om Puri, Ujjal Dosanjh), Harman Bains (Actress), Rupeela Gill (Director’s help), Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer), and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) in ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’.

The Eighth, if you are wondering, is Sadhu outside the frame at this point; and, if you find that people are not standing where their names indicate than please be my guest because i also can not understand all the moves made by our youth.

Moral of the story? Mr Binning CAN NOT do anything but teach Punjabi, and/or that Mr. Binning MUST NOT do anything but teach Punjabi. Sounds good to me because i know that teaching Punjabi the last few decades has not stopped Sadhu from working on his creative writing, and that is what matters the most.

An interesting observation is that the teacher role of Sadhu presented by his students who all appeared to be second generation Punjabi Canadians, is the same as is revered in South Asia for centuries where the love of teaching a particular discipline makes a teacher a strong role model for the students or at least, someone that they respect, learn from and remember as they move along to shape their lives. Yet at the same time, unlike the traditional model of a teacher in South Asia, Sadhu does not create distance as means to command respect but remains informal and communicative with his students, a quality attributed to teachers in the ‘Western’ education system. The character that comes out is a cross between the two traditions.

Another observation is that each time Mr. Binning enters his living room and takes a seat after a day’s hard work, the ominious remote (weapon of TV) control finds his right hand in a brisk and un-observing manner, compliments of course, to the groundedness of Mrs. Binning played by Rupinder Gosal.

Daljit Mahal was comfortable with enacting both character actor Om Puri and our own leader Ujjal Dosanjh. Harman Bains and Rupeela Gill, the actress and the director’s assistant in the film scene, provided faster tempo and some tension to Mr. and Mrs. Binning’s slow and comfortable drawl. Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer) and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) came out strong in their roles as well. And of course, in the shape of Shamsher Sandlas we may be looking at an expatriot Nasiruuddin Shah, to say the very least!

That was a lot of fun Shamsher, Daljit, Harman, Rupeela, Akashdeep and Aman, thanks; it was a great group effort to write/direct/produce the skit in such a short period of time. We also must thank Bibi Anna Kaur Murphy for her advisory role in the skit, and so, thanks Anne.

Also view Rana Nayar’s forceful comment on Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A Glass Half Full, that goes right into the discussion that is about to take place in the next post. Before we split, let me tell you that from 40-50 new people that i had the pleasure to meet, Rana Nayar got me the most confused in that after hearing his first presentation par excellence i was sure he was a British Punjabi from London but he turned out to be a Punjabi Punjabi from Chandigarh thus challenging some of my myths and assumptions.
No More Watnu Dur by Sadhu Binning
Earthy Tones by Gurdial Singh and Rana Nayar
Punjabi Books at Amazon