Black tales from across the Atlantic - Tribune India speaks of the 2016 Prize winner, Jarnail Singh.
Toronto-based Punjabi writer Jarnail Singh has published seven collections of short stories, the latest being Kaale Warke (The Black Pages). One of his collections, Do Tapu (Two Islands) has been translated into Hindi as well, besides being transliterated into the Shahmukhi (Urdu-Persian) script. Another collection Tawars (The Towers) has had multiple editions and is still in demand. It is not for nothing that Jarnail has received Dhahan Prize for 2016, the highest overseas award for Punjabi fiction launched by Vancouver-based Punjabi millionaire Barj Dhahan. This award carries the prize money of 25,000 Canadian dollars, which is more than the prestigious Jnanpith Award given in India for literary achievements.
Kaale Varke is a collection of five long stories published by Lokgeet Parkashan, Mohali, which unfolds the tragic black spots in the socio-economic system of America and Canada. No doubt the establishment in both these countries tries to conceal the bitter reality under the glamorous sheen of their material development.
The first story in this collection ‘Harh’ (The Deluge) deals with devastation caused by the hurricane Katrina in the town of New Orleans (USA) in August 2005. Thousands of hapless people perished in the floods unleashed by the hurricane and thousands more are still unaccounted for. A Punjabi boy, Sukhpal, runs two very successful restaurants there. But his greed for money takes a toll on everything that he owns. He does not evacuate in time despite repeated warnings by the state communication system. Everything that he built with the hard labour of years gets washed away. His American wife, who tries to escape with her friend, loses her son in the floods. Sukhpal saves his life with great difficulty. But when he discovers his wife in a hospital without the child he is furious and in a fit of rage he rejects her and leaves for an unknown place as a pauper. She blames him, his greed for the plight. Faulty engineering assignments by the rapacious companies are also ruthlessly exposed.