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India English Version Of Nanak Singh’s Classic Set For Global Launch

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
English version of Nanak Singh’s classic set for global launch

Will introduce the Father of Punjabi novel to the world audience; translated by the legend's grandson

Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, February 20


The genius of legendary litterateur Nanak Singh will be revealed to vast sections of the diaspora who cannot read the Punjabi language.

Set to hit the stands tomorrow is the first-ever English translation of “Adh Khidiya Phool”, a classic from the rich and diverse repertoire of Singh, the Father of Punjabi novel.

The book titled “A Life Incomplete” has been translated by Navdeep Suri, Nanak Singh’s grandson, who has, in recent times, straddled two difficult worlds. As joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and head of its public diplomacy division, Suri has blazed a new trail in the Government by using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to craft a brand new global image for India. As grandson of Nanak Singh, he has strived to introduce the legendary Punjabi writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner to an untapped international audience.

“In 1997, when the centenary of my grandfather was being commemorated, I was in the Indian Embassy in Washington. I found that the reverence for him was phenomenal. The Punjabi diaspora is a potential market for English translations of Nanak Singh’s works. That’s what triggered the pursuit,” Suri said on the eve of the book’s global launch, happening in the capital tomorrow. It is being hosted by the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, the premiere Punjabi literature organisation of India.

Published by HarperCollins, the work recreates the magic of Singh through a poignant story set in Peshawar of pre-Partition days. The last few stanzas of the translation bring out the work’s relevance in today’s times when communalism is straining the country’s secular fabric.

In conclusion, the story talks of Kuldip Singh, the Sikh protagonist handing over his infant son to a Muslim. “Kuldip Singh returns from jail only to discover that his wife has died. He decides to hand over his son to his Muslim friend Ahmad and his wife Zubeida. The beauty of the story lies in Ahmad’s admonition to Zubeida to mind the Sikh taboos of beef and tobacco. He says these items must never enter their home now,” says Mohinder Singh, honorary director of the sahitya sadan, who will introduce the book at tomorrow’s high-profile launch which several Punjabi stalwarts will attend. Mohinder rates "Adh Khidiya Phool" as the best among Nanak Singh's 59 works.

The translation is expected to be hogged by literature lovers in Pakistan where the publishers may plan a promotional event.

Another high point of the book is that it challenges superstition, bigotry and godmen. “The original has a lot of autobiographical content. As a youngster, my grandfather loved a child widow named Savitri, on whom the character of Saroj is modelled in the novel. The writer’s message against child marriage is loud and clear,” Suri says.

The challenge for him was to keep the soul of the original, which is in its 30th reprint this year. “Fidelity with the original and reliability in the new - that was the challenge. Equally difficult was to capture a 1920s context in time, geography and language and to faithfully reflect the story to the 21st century audience anywhere in the world,” the translator says.

source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120221/main6.htm



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