Posts Tagged Sanjh Publications

The Best Selling Punjabi Novel: Skeena

It’s a Best-Seller!

‘I am delighted to share with you the news that my first novel Skeena has become ‘the most-sold Punjabi novel’ of all times in Pakistan. In an email message, Publisher Amjad Salim Minhas said that ‘Sakina is the most sold Punjabi novel Sanjh has ever published; it is also the most sold Punjabi novel in Pakistan’.

This best-selling Shahmukhi Punjabi edition was published in 2007, and it was the most-launched book in Pakistan with events held in nine cities, each in partnership with local writers and literary organisations. This also made it the ‘most reviewed Punjabi book‘; and, the only novel that brought the movement for Punjabi language rights to the fore at each of its launching events.

‘It is interesting to note that Author Anthony Dalton’s 2011 predictions about Skeena’s English edition are sl–ow–ly but surely coming to pass in Punjabi, though we still have to see how the Gurmukhi edition does in the Indian Punjab where Skeena has never been published or marketed.

‘My gratitude to the readers, reviewers, peers; the publisher, editor, all members of the production team; and, the funders and supporters of Skeena’s Shahmukhi Punjabi edition for this profound and rewarding experience.

‘Thank you.’


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Kishwar Naheed on ‘Skeena’


When Skeena’s Punjabi edition was published by Sanjh Publications in Lahore in 2007, I was indeed curious to know what some people, including Kishwar Naheed, would think of it. For Islamabad launch, I offered her a copy. She looked at the cover, and an intriguing smile appeared on her face (she’ll read it, i thought). She said that she was about to travel abroad for a couple of weeks, so she’ll have time to read on the way over and back. Book launch in Islamabad was a month or so away.

Kishwar returned, and i spoke with her over the phone. She said nothing about Skeena.

On the day of the launch i arrived at the venue, and Kishwar was already there seated with Author Mansha Yaad (1937-2011).
Toon khufia book launch kerni paye ain? (Are you having a secret book launch?) Kishwar asked the moment she saw me.
‘Jee?’ I didn’t get it.
Shehr ch patta ee nahin kissay noon‘ (No one knows about it in the city).
I viewed my surroundings, there were about a dozen people ‘milling around’ in the upper portion of a restaurant, and i liked them all.
‘This is good enough for me’, i said.
Also, it was her city not mine, and she knew how Lahore Press Club had cancelled Skeena launch a day earlier, and how Academy of Letters in Islamabad had refrained from giving it space.
Patriarchy da lafz use keeta ae toon kidray kitab ch?’ (Did you use the word ‘patriarchy’ any where in the book?) She asked.
Certainly there was no attempt on my part to ban any words but it did not seem likely. It could not have been in Skeena’s vocabulary because the character was not projected to be as ‘politicized’ or ‘educated’. It was possible that the characters of Ruffo or Joyni or one of the ‘comrades’ may have used it, but i could not recall the instance.
‘No’, i shook my head.
‘I thought so’, Kishwar said.

Later, in her verbal presentation Kishwar gave us three thoughts about Skeena, each illuminating and each, for me, to be utterly grateful for.

Kishwar began by saying that she had read ‘Skeena’ thrice in the previous few weeks.
‘I read it three times: First, to become fluent in Punjabi (Kishwar’s mother tongue is Urdu, there aren’t many novels published in Punjabi, and so perhaps this was the first Punjabi novel she had actually read), the second time to understand it, and the third time to enjoy it’.

I need to take a pause here because this to me is about the most beautiful and gratifying compliment an author can get from any one; An author can get from another author; And, an author can get from Kishwar Naheed who is known to be a fierce and fearless critic of art and literature.

Then she said:
‘Skeena is a novel on patriarchy that never uses this word’.
What a wonderful thing to say about a novel! This one short sentence affirms that Skeena is not an extended pamphlet on Muslim women’s status or liberation or anything but a creative work going beyond slogans.

The third point was more detailed, and i don’t remember it all but it was something like this:
‘The telling of the story is deceptively simple. This simplicity of it’s expression is based in the profoundty of the Author’s lived experience.’

It is amazing that each of Kishwar’s three points bring into focus the very things that are unique about Skeena: it’s readability (almost everyone i know has read it two or three times), artistic value and literary expression, and the depth of its simplicity.

Islamabad launch of Skeena was well-organized by Publisher Amjad Saleem, and beautifully presided over and coordinated by Professor/Poet Ali Arshad Mir (1951-2008). There were over 35 people, and it turned out to be a warm gathering with fiery discussions and a couple of walk-outs.

The first walk-out was the first presenter Ashfaq Salim Mirza, who had cast a macho-istic gaze on Skeena, and had offended many people who wanted to challenge his assertions. He left without giving anyone a chance to say anything.

The second walk-out occurred near the end when someone observed that the depiction of the Left in Skeena was less than exalted. At that, long time revolutionary activist Iqbal Singh got up, waved his copy of Skeena at me, and said in Punjabi:
‘I’ll go home and read it, and if there is anything damaging to the Left, i will come after you’, and then he left.
Without giving me the chance to tell him that the character Iqbal Singh is not just (in part) named after him, but that the character’s flip religious identity was inspired by him. From the early 70s I knew Iqbal Singh as ‘Sathi (comrade) Iqbal’ , and would often meet him in gatherings at Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore, but it was in 1998 that i came to know that he was a Sikh when my friend Zafaryab Ahmad (1953-2006) took me to his home in Rawalpindi to meet with his family.
I was in Pakistan many months after that but Sathi Iqbal Singh did not come after me, guess he did not find anything incriminating enough.
A few years later, he moved on.

After the launch, when Kishwar left, a couple of learned friends including Ahmad Salim observed that they had never seen Kishwar so mellow, even tender, when talking about a literary work.
Skeena must be a lucky woman!

Fauzia Rafique

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‘Skeena’- Mashraqi Te Maghrabi Tehzeeb di Awaz

‘Skeena – the Voice of eastern and western civilization’
By Fouzia Hanif
Lahore, Pakistan
Punjabi in Roman

Rab sohney ne aes jag nu wan swaney te man mohney rangaan nal sjaya te ehna rangaan nal khaiden lai manukh nu aes dunia te bhajia. Jad manukh ney aes jag te akal te Shaur dian manzalan taey keetian taan ohney jo kuj dunia wich waparda wakhia uhnu apney kalam te akhraan raheen kagaz te ulaikia taan je smaaj di islah ho sakey. Aeh kalam te akhraan nal khaiden waley manukh hi likhari sadaey. Eahna likharian wichon ik na sadey Punjab di dharti di dhi da aey jehda na Fauzia Rafique aey. Ohna adab di dunia wich bey-shumaar kam keetay. Ohna da majuda kam jehra manzrey aam te aya aey o novel “Skeena” aey.

Pakistani zananian dey likhey gaey Punjabi novelan wichon Kahkashan Malik horaan dey novel ‘Chikar Rangi Murti’ tun baad meri nazar wich eh Pakistani novel nigar zanani da ik nidar te bebak tahreer te mabni novel aey. Jehra Punjabi novel nu ban-ul-akwami padhar de novelaan wich shamal karda aey.

Jadon main eh novel parhya taan mera ji keeta ke main ahdey barey kuj likhan. Aes novel nu pahli wari parh ke inj japia jivain Skeena ne hudkushi kar laye aey taan manu bohat mayusi hoe. kunje Skeena da kirdar jis taran bayania gia aey o ik dlair te nidar kurri da kirdar aey, ohnu hudkushi nahi karni chahidi si. Baad wich merey te aey haqiqat ashqar hoe je o te budhmat mazhab de nazriay de mutabiq soch rahi si ‘Meri koe Tawarikh nahi’. Kunje Budhmat Mazhab da ik groh dhian wich jan lai aey akhar bolda aey. Jadon main jania ke Skeena zinda aey taan maino changa laga.

Aes novel de plot, kirdar, mukalamey, nazria te mahol ya manzarkashi barey gal keeti javey taan novel da plot mazboot bunyadaan te usria nazar anda aey. Ahdey sarey kirdar apni apni thaan bharpur andaz nal byaney gae ney. Par Skeena te Jeeno da kirdar ajehyan zananian nu wakhanda aey jihrian okraan wich wi apney haqaan lai lardian nazar andian ney. Novel dey mukalme barey gal keeti javey te Skeena de mukalme barrey jandar ne kunje o niki omar tun hi amrani shaur rakhdi si ohda aey mukalama mulahza howey jihdey wich o apni maan ji nu sawal puchdi nazar andi aey:
“pishley mahenay tuseen Amman Zainab nu akhiya si ke ‘purey pind wichon teri nu sab tun wad fasal liyandi pai aey, te Maan Jee, tusin Gamu nu ap puchia si ke ‘Jeeno ney taenu puter nahi dita?’ te Maan Jee Jeeno mehfoz aslon nahi, ——–”

Aes novel wich nazriati paehlu wi kabley deed ney. Ahdey wich siyasi, muashrati, jagirdari atey khas toar te mazhabi paehlu bohat jandar te khubsurat andaz nal bayania gia aey. Pae kis traan mazhab da galat istmaal kar ke zanani da istahsal keeta ja reha aey. Novel wich aey gal bohat wazia aey jo kuj muashra kisey bunde nu dainda aey, ohda radeamal zaroor sahmne anda aey. Fauzia Rafique horaan ne manzarkushi wi dadhi changi keeti jivain ke novel dey aes paragraph tun zahir hunda aey:
“Thandi wa meray mukh te khilar jandi aey, chann akhan nu hanarey de dhongey part wakhanda, khulian asmana te lejanda aey. Haithaan anabi patraan ala Japani mapal, chandi varge safaidian te totey rangian soyan aley chiran nal khalota aey. Asman saf kala shisha, wich jurey sunehri tarey. va da ik bula koasa avey, ek thanda.
“Aj gharon bahar nikalan di raat aey.”

Novel wich kidhrey kidhrey jhol wi nazar anda aey. Jivain Skeena ik zaheen, mutjasus te amrani shaur rakhan wali zanani si te ohda Gamu nu na syanana, uchey mathey waley nojwan da nuro dey bhara wangar lagna, Joynie te Maggi de kirdaraan da Skeena di Khala te Saeen Jee nal mawazna karna kuj jachia nahi. Aes novel nu parh ke qari de andar shaur de kaee part khulde ney jihrey ohnu thaley dityaan gian galaan barey soch vachar karan te majboor karde ney:
– Manafqat tun bachna
– Mazhab da bharpur mutalaa karna te mazhab da sahee istamaal
– Siyasi nazam di islah
– Zananian de Khiyalat te nazriat nu haqeeqi mania wich samjan di loarr
– Maan pu da dhian de war lubhan lagian munde barey puri taraan janch partaal karna

Novel wich kuj ajehyaan galaan wi ney jihriyan ikhlakyat de hawaley nal changian nahi. Jevain Skeena da choti omar tun hi apney bhra nu sharab pinda wakh ke sharab peena, bhang peena, raat nu apni Maan Jee te bhra tun luk ke ghar tun bahir jana te Iqbal Singh urf Gamu nal gair kanooni taaluqat wagara. Aehna sarian galaan nu sada muashra tey aseen kadi pasand nahi karaan gey par gal aey way ke jadon muashrey wich tohade apney beja pabandian laan yaan tuhade tajasus nu daban yaan tohade wastey ajehey halat bana dain jivain Skeena dey ghar wale Ihtasham da Skeena nal rawaya wi zahir karda aey. Taan koi banda kis had taak ja sakda aey, Aye gal Skeena raheen sadey sahmney andi aey.

Mukdi gal aey wey ke muashrey dey amal te hi hamesh kisay wi bundey da radeamal zahir honda aey. Aseen kisey wi kaley bandey nu ilzam nahi de sakdey.


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Two important books: Manolis’s ‘Vernal Equinox’ and Fauzia Rafique’s ‘Skeena’

Manolis’s poetry collection ‘Vernal Equinox’ and Fauzia Rafique’s novel ‘Skeena’
By Sana’a Janua
April 9, 2011
Surrey Public Library
Newton Branch

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:
Things Past
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

So, I’d be honored today to call Manolis to the stage and share his insights on his poetry.
(Poetry readings by Manolis from Vernal Equinox, and from his translation of Yannis Ritsos’s poems.)

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

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