Punjabi writer Darshan Singh, who wrote the controversial biographical novel on communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, has won this year’s Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize.
The $25,000 CAD (Rs 12.5 lakh) prize is awarded by the Canada India Education Society (CIES) in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to promote excellence in Punjabi literature.
The Dhahan prize is awarded annually to the work of fiction published in either Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi scripts.
Darshan Singh won the prize for his book “Lota”.
“Lota was selected to receive the Dhahan Prize from eligible entries from five countries around the world,” said Barj S Dhahan, co-founder of the Canada India Education Society.
“This prestigious international literary award opens doors for aspiring Punjabi writers and plays an important role in the preservation and expansion of the Punjabi language and its literature,” he added.
Two runners-up will be awarded Rs 2.5 lakh ($5,000 CAD) each. The runners-up are Harjeet Atwal for novel Mor Udaari) and Nain Sukh for Madho Lal Hussain – Lahore Di Vel.
Darshan Singh shot to fame with his novel “Bhau” released in 2008. The novel was a controversial portrayal of communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
Surjeet’s party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), didn’t take his portrayal in the biographical novel very kindly.
Punjabi is the fifth-highest spoken language in Canada and is integral to the multicultural fabric of the nation.
The Dhahan prize, the largest literary award of its kind, aims to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world, and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale.
Previous winners include 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).