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Rana Nayar pays a tribute to leading Punjabi novelist Gurdial Singh

Written by Parul | Published: July 3, 2012 3:07:31 am

Rana Nayar pays a tribute to leading Punjabi novelist Gurdial Singh

For more than two decades now,Gurdial Singh has lived inside me and this reader is my tribute to one of the most significant living novelists in the Punjabi language at the moment,one of the trendsetters in Punjabi fiction,” says Rana Nayar as he hands out Gurdial Singh: A Reader. It’s a “labour of love” and a tribute to Singh by Nayar,a professor in Panjab University’s

Department of English and Cultural Studies. Nayar is also a practicing translator of repute,who has rendered around ten modern classics of Punjabi into English.

The concept of a reader,explains Nayar,comes to us from the West. “In India,we neither believe in preserving the memorabilia of our great writers,nor memorialising their works and that’s something a reader serves,” rues Nayar. Realising this lacuna,the National Sahitya Akademi has initiated the practice of compiling a reader of significant writers of Indian languages. Nayar says this reader has been put together for all those who would want to read Singh,but have no access to his work in the original,as they are neither comfortable reading him in Punjabi nor in Hindi. “It was essential to bring his work into English in the present form,” says Nayar,who took more than two years to put the 500-page reader in place. An engaging account of the man and the influences that shaped his genius over the years,it’s an insightful compendium,the first attempt of this kind to bring the raw flavour of his writing into English.

The long association with Singh,says Nayar,has convinced him that his fiction does betray all the ‘ingredients’ one often looks for in a classical writing. “His work has rewarded me with rare insights into the Punjabi psychology,sociology and cultural archives,one I want to share with a larger audience,” says Nayar. Apart from Nayar’s reader on Singh,two other works — writer-researcher Tejwant Singh Gill’s 600-page reader on Sant Singh Sekhon,one of the stalwarts of Punjabi literature and Paramjit Ramana’s reader on well-known Punjabi writer,Kartar Singh Duggal — have also been published by the Akademi.

Not just biographical and sociological details,the reader has a fair sampling of Singh’s fiction,both long and short. Apart from two chapters from his autobiography in two parts (Nayan Mattian and Doosri Dehi),a chapter each from the only travelogue he has written,his book on the creative process,samples of the articles Singh has written for newspapers,the reader showcases his ten novels,with two chapters each included. Nayar has also included interviews with the author and a separate section on the critical reception of his work among the scholars of Punjabi literature. “It is my tribute to Singh,and a way of exorcising the tenacious grip his fiction has exercised over me,for years now,” sums up Nayar.

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