The recipient of this year’s Sahitya Akademi Award in Punjabi, Jaswinder Singh, says India being a multilingual and multicultural country, it is necessary that we co-exist peacefully and there is congenial atmosphere for the common man and posterity.
With the current intolerance debate on in the country, he did not speak on writers returning their awards, but said every type of communalism and extremism is against the human spirit and is condemnable. “I feel not only literary fraternity but people at large must put forward their views on the incidents that divide society,” said the Patiala-based Punjabi critic, who has been bestowed the award for his 2011 novel ‘Mat Lok’.
According to him, the award is a big achievement for him, but his urge for writing is beyond any recognition and is inspired by the inner curiosity to touch life’s complexities through his literary creations.
The 61-year-old writer says, “I don’t believe in writing in haste. That is why it took me more than 20 years to convince myself that I could explore my fictional writing skills and match the standards set by scores of talented Punjabi writers.”
“Of course, being a literary critic, an urge to touch perfection through characters was always there. Therefore, I revised the novel’s manuscript no less than seven times and took almost four years before it was sent for publication in 2011,” said the writer, whose literary work as well as fictional writing is part of the syllabi in several universities.
While the award-winning novel is part of the MA Punjabi syllabus of Kurukestra University, the writer says Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, has also decided to have it for its MA courses from the next session.
The novel penetrates into the complexities and tensions of modern life and talks about an irony of relationships through the intriguing story of a couple. Set in the ’80s, external factors like the terrorism days in Punjab are also interweaved in the story.
Chandigarh-based historian and former GNDU vice-chancellor JS Grewal says the award for the novel was validation of his view that the fictional work was of international standards. “What makes the novel different from others is its subject matter, depth and treatment. It is not judgmental in nature like other novels. It leaves the readers to draw their own interpretations, and that is where it draws multiple conclusions, he says.
Former dean, languages, Punjabi University, Jaswinder Singh is currently re-employed and is busy with another novel, which is expected to be published next year.