Posts Tagged Sadhu Binning
Novel Skeena was hailed as a unique, artistic and prideful contribution to Punjabi literature by the members of Punjabi Lekhak Manch, one of the oldest BC Punjabi writers group.
Ten people shared their views about Skeena including both the coordinators of the Manch while four members took part in the discussion about Punjabi publishing. The meeting was held at Newton Library in Surrey on July 10, 2011.
The discussion was initiated by Sukhvant Hundal who had earlier requested the Manch to give time to Skeena.
Sukhvant Hundal said he values Skeena because of the many unique aspects of it. Unlike most other novels, Skeena depicts patriarchy in the class context. It acknowledges the oppression of Skeena’s own family whereas most other novels typically highlight the oppression of the ‘other’ family. The novel also artfully reveals the layers and layers of violence in our social systems. As well, Hundal was moved by the depiction throughout the novel of ‘sanjh’ or ‘togetherness’ of women across class, ethnicity and religion. ‘The storytelling is picturesque,’ remarked Hundal ‘once begun, the novel is hard to put down.’
Sadhu Binning said that Skeena is a work of such depth that more discussions need to take place on it. He said ‘I am happy and proud’ to have this unique novel in Punjabi literature where the style of writing is such that it seems the story is the reader’s own life, and the events are happening to him or her. The novel also shows the values of the jagirdari system through its effects and impacts on people rather than through socio-political speeches. The literary style of expression allows the readers to form their own conclusions about various aspects, characters and situations. Sadhu also appreciates that Skeena faces all kinds of difficulties in her life yet her desire to live remains strong. ‘Skeena is a prideful addition to Punjabi literature’, he said.
Sadhu asked Fauzia to speak about her experience with Punjabi publishers in Pakistan with reference to the Punjabi Shahmukhi edition of Skeena (Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2007).
Randeep Purewall said he liked the novel for many reasons but would limit himself to the mention of just two. First, the ways in which the novel references themes related to First Nations in the Canadian context from the very beginning; and second, the novel’s illustrations of people having different sexual orientations such as the two lesbian couples, in both its social contexts. He said that it is rare to find Punjabi or South Asian literature that integrates such themes into its projected social environments.
Amrik Duhra said that he enjoyed reading the novel, and was especially taken by its usage of different Punjabi dialects, and of the beauty of its language and expression.
Inderjit Kaur Sidhu said that she had just found a copy of the English edition of Skeena lying on the table, and when she opened it, she came across the following passage:
‘This is my third house arrest. First at my parent’s, second at my in-laws, and third in my own home. Seven months. Nine years. One week. Punishment, compromise, investigation.’
She said, ‘For sure, I will buy it and read it’.
Surinder Kaur Sahota said that she enjoyed reading the novel because of the beauty of its language and expression. The story deals with family values, social systems, and the hold of religious ideologies. She said, it is constructed from many ‘fictions’, events that cannot be true. Surinder gave two three examples of such untrue things including the one where Skeena is shown assaulted by an ‘educated doctor husband’. ‘But…’ she said, ‘I was most shocked to find that Iqbal Singh was Gamu’. Surinder said she was irritated by the spelling mistakes in the Gurumukhi edition of Skeena.
Ranbir Jauhal said that she also was not as happy with the fourth section as she was with the rest of the novel. As well, she said, she wanted the novel to be a lot longer but it finished too fast. Responding to comments made by Surinder she said that one of the things she most appreciates about ‘Skeena’ is in the ways it bursts various societal myths, like the myth that wife assault only occurs in ‘un-educated lower class’ families and that middle class ‘educated’ men do not assault/abuse their wives. She also affirmed Randeep’s observations about the integration in the novel of various taboo subjects such as sexual orientation.
Jarnail Singh Sekha, Co-Coordinator, said that he likes the name of the novel. The language is beautiful, characters have depth, and the story wins the reader’s heart where the reader does not want to put the novel away until it’s finished. There are however, conversion problems with the script, and they should have been taken care of before the publication of the Gurumukhi edition. He said that he has read Skeena in both Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi scripts, and Shahmukhi flows wonderfully well but Gurumukhi stalls time and again. Also, in the fourth section, the novel stoops to a low-level filmi plot when Iqbal Singh is revealed as Gamu. ‘In my opinion’ remarked Sekha, ‘Iqbal should have stayed Iqbal.’
Jarnail Singh Artist, Co-Coordinator, said that Skeena is a window into the cultural milieu of Pakistan and the status of Muslim women. He enjoyed the novel, but tends to agree with Mr. Sekha that at the end there is filmi-style plotting. ‘Nothing is added to the novel by turning Iqbal Singh into Gamu.’ Also, he said, the lesbian issues have been touched but in a superfluous manner since the lesbian characters do not move the plot. Artist affirmed that script conversion problems are irritating for the Gurumukhi reader.
Surinder Kaur Brar said she just loved the novel. The author’s ability to express delicate feelings, concepts and situations is amazing. The language and style of writing is beautiful. It has strong subject matter but then every novel has subject matter but not every novelist can fulfil it or do justice to it. The depiction of reality is subtle and realistic even ‘natural’. ‘I like everything in it, if you ask me, i can not find anything wrong with it. Skeena is a great addition to Punjabi literature’.
Fauzia Rafique thanked Punjabi Lekhak Manch and its members for giving this special time to Skeena, for reading the novel, and for sharing valuable insights. She also thanked Sukhvant Hundal for requesting the Manch to discuss Skeena. She said, she will take the feedback on Gurumukhi conversion issues to the publisher, Libros Libertad, so that the next print run is free of typos.
As suggested by Sadhu Binning, Fauzia shared her experience of publishing Skeena in Punjabi Shahmukhi script from Lahore in 2007. She said that like East Punjab, West Punjab also has three main publishing houses, out of which one had asked her in 2006 to convert Skeena into Shahmukhi. Once the manuscript was ready, the publisher was discussing printing details but no mention was made of any royalties for the author. Fauzia said, she had to withdraw Skeena, and then offer it one by one, to the other two publishers. Amjad Salim of Sanjh Publications came through; he signed a royalty agreement with the author, invested their own money, and published not the standard 200-350 books but 750 (hardbound= 500, Paperback=250). Sanjh also acquired funding from South Asia Partnership (SAP) to launch the novel in nine cities in Pakistan. With that, ‘Skeena may be the best-selling novel in modern Punjabi literature,’ Fauzia said.
The situation of Punjabi publishing is such where in most cases, she said, authors fund the publishing of their own books or they have to buy-back a large portion of the print-run; plus they have to do their own promotion without much support from the publisher. This situation necessitates that the Punjabi Canadian writers find better solutions for the publication of their works. The formation of a Punjabi writers cooperative to publish, promote and distribute the writings of Punjabi Canadian authors is one way to go.
She said, at this time, author royalties and rights are less a matter of money and more a matter of principle. There is not much money in publishing of literature in any language and especially not in the publishing of Punjabi literature, but it ‘torments me’ she said, to find that when a Punjabi book is published, each and every contributor is paid BUT the author. In addition, the author is powerless and held at bay by the publisher with ‘Punjabi books don’t sell’ oxymoron. Nothing sells without promotion and distribution, she said.
Satish Gulati of Chetna Parkashan, visiting Canada from Ludhiana India, outlined the many problems faced by Punjabi publishers. He said that it requires consistency and dedication to continue to publish Punjabi books, and it is a difficult path to tread. He explained the process of book publishing and selling, and outlined the many barriers to its success.
The discussion brought out the need to further brainstorm on the different aspects of Punjabi publishing to make it a more beneficial and respectful experience for Punjabi Canadian authors.
Nedeem Parmar, Treasurer of the Manch, was of the opinion that there is no need to discuss this subject as Chetna Parkashan is doing a wonderful job in serving the publishing needs of Punjabi Canadian authors.
Fauzia, however, has made a request to the Manch to make some time to hold discussions on different aspects of Punjabi publishing as it impacts Punjabi Canadian authors.
Punjabi Lekhak Manch was established over 35 years back. The first meeting was attended, among others, by its initiators Surjeet Kalsey, Gurcharan Rampuri and Ajmer Rode.
The meeting was attended by Jarnail Singh Sekha, Jarnail Singh Artist, Sushil Kaur, Surinderpal Kaur Brar, Kirpal Kaur, Gurcharan Singh Gill, Inderjit Singh Dhami, Krishan Bhanot, Khushhal Singh Gloti, Pritpal Singh Sandhu, Fauzia Rafique, Hrjit Daudhria, Joginder Shamsher, Barjinder K. Dhillon, Hari Singh Tatla, Narinder Baia, Jagdev S. Dhillon, Pavinder Dhariwal, Harjinder Singh Cheema, Inderjit Kaur Sidhu, Shahzad Nazir Khan, Nirmal Kaur Gill, Jasbir Kaur Maan, Satish Gulati, Nedeem Parmar, Davinder Punia, Gian Singh Kotli, Ranbir Jauhal, Sukhvant Hundal, Sadhu Binning, Randip Purewal, Amrik Duhra, Surinder K. Sahota.
(Note: The list may not be comprehensive.)
Punjabi Lekhak Manch meets every second Sunday from 1-4 PM at Surrey’s Newton Library. Contact Punjabi Lekhak Manch: firstname.lastname@example.org
This report uses valuable input from Jarnail Singh Artist, Parvinder Dhariwal, Jarnail Singh Sekha and Randeep Purewall.
I want to thank everyone for coming out today. For me it is a great day for many reasons. I am happy to see the shift of celebration from Vancouver to Surrey. Vancouver being the heart of culture has a lot of events happening that pertain to arts, culture, books, and other literary nuance. Surrey is popular for different stuff, mainly loud music on the streets, good bargains at Punjabi market, and lately, lots of police and street regulations. So, today as we celebrate two writers, and their books, in my opinion we are making a statement here. Surrey too holds what it takes to be the heart of culture. Somehow, I feel that it is my duty to be a part of it, and just seeing so many faces today, I feel confident in saying that everyone in this room is enabling this shift to take place.
The second reason that pleases me is that we are going to talk about two very important books today. The first one is ‘Vernal Equinox’ by Manolis published by Ekstasis Editions from Victoria, and with this, I will introduce our first speaker who has written the book that I hold in my hand. After working as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker in Canada to support his writing, Manolis now lives in White Rock where he spends his time writing, gardening, and traveling. He has written three novels, over ten collections of poetry, and has published short fiction and non fiction in Greek and in English. Toward the end of 2006 he founded Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company in Surrey BC with the goal of publishing literary books. Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto has said this about the poet and the poems:
‘Book of tenderness, Vernal Equinox is also the Adam’s apple mythology whirling in the eyes of the far away lover, the body’s appeal, desire and ardency, which are the unavoidable delight of carnal fire. Eloquent and sensitive, the poetry subjects crossing the pages of this book are vivid metaphors of beauty, poems of a lifetime. I mean: of a mature poet giving to the world a transcendent memory of the senses on its purest form.‘
This is the beauty of Manolis’s poetry. And, I’d share some of it with you before I invite him on stage. It might not be Manolis’s favorite poem, but I connected with it on the level that the above quote testifies to. It says:
She stored his pictures in the album
dusted the chest carefully
hid her sighs inside an envelope
placed it on the side of her heart then
sat mesmerized by the memory of him
lingering in her mind as a crystal laughter
like when he used to take her hand saying: love you
For our second book Skeena by Fauzia Rafique, I have a list of many strong speakers from both the academic and the literary world. This event will see us discussing Skeena from various eyes, each pair just as literary attuned and intellectually distinctive as the other. I am very interested in seeing how this event opens up and where it leads us to. So, before I begin to call upon my speakers for today, I want to set forth a few questions that we should always attend to when we are discussing literature like Skeena.
I want to know as a reader how such a book, that can be read as resistance literature, ethnic literature, political literature, minority literature, feminist literature, and even like a travelogue, should be treated? How do we shelf it? Do we call it, to remove the strain of literary canons, simply Canadian literature?
It gets complicated to know that a Pakistani immigrant woman writes this book. Pakistan, that arouses in the readers’ minds a distinct map, a different region, a different race, and most of all, her politics. So, does it become a Pakistani novel, when we have many writers from different races in Canada writing about places that are not Canadian, and yet, it is Canadian literature?
It is here that I want to also mention how in Pakistan, when Fauzia went in 2007 to publish this novel, the Literary Society of Lahore Press Club, who had insisted on holding the launch, backed out 24 hours before the launch after reading it. Academy of letters, Islamabad did not allow it to launch at their premises.
So, we have a history of reactions attached to Skeena. While Skeena continues to challenge, it does so with grace and perseverance. Fauzia’s book is going to challenge the norms that we comfortably attach to the literatures of Canada and Pakistan, and perhaps even the market of global literatures. I use the word literatures to emphasize the importance of heterogeneous quality of literature, because in doing so, I want us to remember the distinctions in literature. No two novels are alike, and the tradition of transformation and canons tells us that labeling is never easy. That a single novel Skeena, that is written in two languages Punjabi and English simultaneously, can be canonized into two different locales. That Skeena can belong in Canada, as much as in Pakistan. That it too can take the condition of the very woman who writes it, the condition of being here and there. English Skeena and Punjabi Skeena, the twins that were conceived together, but born at different times, are like the face of the earth, West and East, South and North. Here, i quote a reader of English edition of Skeena.
‘It is a simple novel, yet the control of vision with which it targets the literary nuance speaks to the condition of clarity. It is an issue-oriented book. The form is simple, the content is not. Here, we question the old question: does form follow function? Yes (for Skeena). The ‘function’ (of Skeena) is to stimulate our minds, and to bring us out of the comfort we attach with speaking about women’s issues in an Islamic state, and in the western state(s), and the book makes us do that by remaining simple and transparent ‘in form’.’ (From ‘Skeena Brings fever to the Mind’ by Rajkumri Fehmida)
As for the writer, Fauzia Rafique, I want to congratulate her for conceiving this novel that beautifully unites the world, and then separates it with dignity. I present to you, the novel ‘Skeena’.
Parveen Malik: Review of Skeena presented by Dr. Saif Khalid.
Surjeet Kalsey: ‘Skeena: SarhaddaN toN paar de aurat, a woman beyond borders’
Sadhu Binning: ‘Skeena’
Ajmer Rode: ‘Fauzia Rafiq da novel Skeena’
Fauzia Rafique: Reading from Skeena
Launch organized by Libros Libertad, uddari books and Sanjh Publications
P R E SS R E L E A S E
At the launch of Skeena in Surrey (Punjabi editions) and Vancouver (English edition) earlier this month, guest speakers said this:
‘You have written a first class novel about life for Muslim women in Pakistan, and later in a new land. You have given your readers an unprecedented view of life behind the veil as Skeena’s story unfolds. This beautifully crafted book made me sad, but it also made me smile. I am in awe of your talent. Skeena deserves to be a huge hit and if, or when, it does hit the best sellers list, I believe you could become a new literary star in Canada.’
National President, Canadian Authors Association (CAA)
Ajmer Rode, an accomplished BC Author and the 2011 winner of Anad Foundation International Poetry Prize, said that ‘Secularism is at the center of this novel’. He said that though he considers Salman Rushdie to be a great writer, a writer of unequaled imagination and a highly forceful expression, but in terms of challenging/confronting religion, he likes the subtlety of expression in Skeena.
‘This book tells us of the specificity of Pakistan, of being a woman in Pakistan,… But it also speaks to the most general features of the Human Condition. It is thus deeply particular, and deeply humanist, like all real works of art. And I think this is that, one that will not only make its mark in Punjabi—in India and in Pakistan and in Canada—but in its English form, in these countries and farther afield.’
Chair of Punjabi Language, Literature, and Sikh Studies, University of British Columbia (UBC)
‘In this post 911 world we need more work like this to help us all understand from the inside of people’s mental frameworks—how are we all similar as human beings and how do we differ? With CNN, CanWest Global and the most of the rabid anti-Islamic media telling us lies about how Muslims live, this kind of book speaks to us urgently about understanding, solidarity and building a better world.’
UBC, Medical School
‘In reality this novel is a political and revolutionary novel in it’s essence’
Poet/Author, Founder/Director of Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA)
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.
Reviews and updates on Skeena
Fauzia Rafiq 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, Surrey 2011) and an anthology Aurat Durbar: The Court of Women: Writings by Women of South Asian Origin (Sumach Press, Toronto 1995). A selection of her English and Punjabi poetry, Passion-Fruit/Tahnget-Phal will be out 2011.
Order Skeena Online
Contact Libros Libertad
Sadhu Binning presents his review of Punjabi Gurumukhi edition of Fauzia Rafique’s novel ‘Skeena’ at its launch in Surrey, Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Produced by Kamaljit S. Thind
Mehak Punjab di TV
You are invited to the Surrey launch of the two Punjabi editions of ‘Skeena’.
It is a powerful story of a Muslim Canadian woman that begins from a Punjabi village in Pakistan, moves to the city of Lahore, to Toronto in Ontario, and ends in Surrey, British Columbia.
Saturday, April 9
Newton Branch, Surrey Public Library
13795 70 Avenue, Surrey BC V3W 0E1
Download PDF Poster
Poetry Readings by Manolis
From ‘Yannis Ritsos – Poems’, and ‘Vernal Equinox’
Readings from ‘Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique
Guest Speakers on ‘Skeena’
Dr. Saif Khalid
Shahzad Nazir Khan
Discussion and Refreshments
Gurumukhi edition of this novel is published by Uddari Books (Surrey 2011), and the Shahmukhi or the Perso-Arabic script edition by Sanjh Publications (Lahore 2007). The English edition of ‘Skeena’ (Libros Libertad, Surrey 2011) will also be available.
English Edition of ‘Skeena’
Punjabi (Gurumukhi) Edition of ‘Skeena’
Punjabi (Shahmukhi) Edition of ‘Skeena’
Update: View Sadhu’s review of Skeena on YouTube and In Shahmukhi
Sadhu, a bilingual author, has lived in the Vancouver area since migrating to Canada in 1967. He has published more than fifteen books of poetry, fiction, plays, translations and research. His works have been included in more than thirty-five anthologies both in Punjabi and English. He edited a literary Punjabi monthly ‘Watno Dur’, and now co-edits a quarterly, ‘Watan’.
He is a founding member of Vancouver Sath, a theatre collective, Ankur and various other literary and cultural organizations. He sat on the BC Arts Board from 1993 to 1995. He is a central figure in the Punjabi arts community and was named one of the top 100 South Asians making a difference in BC.
Twenty years ago, he founded Punjabi Language Education Association and has been actively promoting Punjabi language in educational
institutions in BC.
Update: Bhupinder Jee was unable to attend.
Bhupinder is a Panjab-born actor, director and writer. He came to Canada in …
More to come…
He now lives in Surrey BC where he runs his real estate and mortgage business.
Sana’a hails from a Punjabi family and is damn proud of it. She is a cultural activist, a keen reader and a spirited individual.
She is studying to become a nurse these days. Her interest also lies in post-colonial, and subaltern studies. Her favorite writers are Fanon, Dorris Lessing, and Assia Djebar.
She is un-apologetically firm about minority rights in Pakistan and elsewhere.
She still wants to be an actor one day!
Update: Surjeet’s review is published in Gurumukhi by Indo Canadian Times. View some of it on YouTube, and View Part 2
Read review in Punjabi Shahmukhi Perso-Arabic script
Surjeet Kalsey is an accomplished Punjabi Canadian author of poetry, short fiction and drama. In her writings, Surjeet explores the lives of Punjabi Canadian women and communities from aware ‘immigrant’ perspectives. She presented Punjabi literature to the mainstream audience for the first time in Canada during the seventies.
Surjeet began her career as a journalist news anchor for Punjabi Pradeshik Samachar on All India Radio in the Seventies in Chandigarh, and wrote poetry and short stories before coming to Canada in 1974 where she continued her passion for translation, journalism and broadcasting.
She translated 55 Punjabi poets into English, and published an anthology named – ‘Glimpses of Twentieth Century Punjabi Poetry An Anthology in English Translation’ (1994, Ajanta Press, Second edition by Tarlochan Publications, Chandigarh 2010).
As an Accreditied Court Interpreter and Certified Translator, she has completed several book length projects and her literary translations were considered by English audience as “accurate, faithful, and true to the original” (M. Bullock), and attempted to fill the gap between Punjabi poets and mainstream poets.
Surjeet has three poetry books in English ‘Foot Prints of Silence’, ‘Speaking To The Winds’ and ‘In This Solitude’ to her credit. (www.apnaorg.com) She has published six books of poetry with ‘Naam Tiharey’ (Amritsar 2006) being the latest. In addition, she has published four collections of short fiction in Punjabi and English; has written and directed and staged seven plays; produced several articles and dissertations on history, literature and the status of women in Canada.
Surjeet is the Editor of the Gurumukhi edition of ‘Skeena’.
Dr. Saif Khalid
Update: View Dr. Saif on YouTube with an introduction by Sana Janjua
Dr. Khaled was born in the Pakistan city of Lyalpur in a middle class progressive family, and went on to study in Gujranwala, Bulgaria and Islamabad. He did his M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences, and his PhD in Plant Pathology from Bulgaria in 1983.
From 1984 to 2002, he worked as a Researcher for Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in Islamabad, Pakistan. Since 2003, he has been working for the greenhouse and agricultural industry in Fraser Valley.
Dr. Saif Khaled has co-edited and co-authored a book with Award-wining author Ahmad Salim. The book is a biography of a Pakistani revolutionary, titled ‘Comrade Lal Khan’ (Urdu, Sanjh Publications, 2007).
Dr. Khalid loves to read books, watch films and participate in socio-political and cultural activities.
He is a leading member and organizer of Fraser Valley Peace Council (FVPC) and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC).
Manolis was born in the small village Kolibari west of Chania on the Greek island of Crete in 1947. At a young age, his family moved to Athens where he was educated. After serving in the armed forces for a couple of years, he emigrated to Vancouver in 1973.
After working as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker in Canada, he now lives in White Rock where he spends his time writing, gardening, and traveling.
He has written three novels, over ten collections of poetry, and has published short fiction and non fiction in Greek and in English.
Toward the end of 2006 he founded Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company in Surrey BC with the goal of publishing literary books.
Manolis will present readings from his new collection of poetry ‘Vernal Equinox’ (Ekstasis Editions, 2011), and from his translated work of ‘Yannis Ritsos – Poems’ (Libros Libertad, 2010)
Update: View reading on YouTube
Fauzia is a 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 novel ‘Skeena’ (Punjabi, Lahore 2007) and anthology ‘Aurat Durbar’ (English, Toronto 1995).
She maintains sites and blogs on Punjabi literature and art, ‘honour-killings’, blasphemy laws, and the environment.
A selection of her English and Punjabi poetry ‘Passion-Fruit/Tahnget-Phal’ is due to come out in 2011.
Fauzia will read from the Punjabi edition of her novel ‘Skeena’.
Update: View Ajmer on YouTube
Ajmer Rode is a Punjabi Canadian author living in Vancouver BC. A poet, playwright, translator and a cultural activist he writes both in English and Punjabi. Rode is one of the poets whose work has been added to Poetryinternationalweb with eight of his poems in English along with Punjabi translations. One of the poems ‘Kalli’ reflecting on the bonding between human and animal life in Punjab, received special attention from editors. The poem was also displayed with a painting Homecoming in a Surrey Arts Gallery exhibition (Jarnail Singh – Discovering the soul of Punjab) in 2004.
More to come…