2018 Winners awarded for excellence in Punjabi fiction

Baldev Singh Sadaknama

Baldev Singh Sadaknama
2018 Dhahan Prize Winner

Baldev Singh is an acclaimed Punjabi writer from Moga, Punjab. He is the recipient of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award (Indian Academy of Letters) for best book in Punjabi in 2011 for his novel Dhahvan Dilli De Kingre on the legendary Punjabi rebel Dulla Bhatti. Singh has also been honored with several awards including the ‘Shiromani Sahitkar’ Award from the Punjab State Government.


Holding a Bachelor of Education and a Master’s Degree in Punjabi, his literary journey began in 1977 with the publication of Gillian Chhitian Di Agg, a short story collection. After working as a teacher, he moved to Kolkata, West Bengal in search of a better life. There he worked as a truck cleaner and a cab driver until becoming a truck operator. His truck driving experience became the inspiration for Sadaknama, a regular serial in Amrita Pritam’s Nagmani magazine. Later the serials were published as a three-volume novel earning him fame and becoming endearingly known as Baldev Singh Sadaknama. His other creation Laal Batti deals with life in the red-light area of Kolkata. He is a prolific writer of 60 books in various genres including drama, essay, travelogue, autobiography and children’s literature, as well as works of translation. His other well-known novels include Annadatta, Panjwan Sahibzada and Satluj Vehnda Riha.


SOORAJ DEE AKH (‘Sun’s Eye’) 

This year's winning book, Sooraj Dee Akh (Sun's Eye), is a work of historical fiction by Baldev Singh Sadaknama from Moga, Punjab, India. The novel explores the life and times of the legendary hero of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This brilliantly written saga of the meteoric rise of Ranjit Singh and his Kingdom is based on four years of research by the author. The portrayal of key events and relationships of Ranjit Singh shine light on the depth and complexity of this larger than life leader under whose rule Punjab experienced a period of relative peace and prosperity. Ranjit Singh’s political intelligence, military strategies, diplomatic skills, and an inclusive approach to leadership and governance are unparalleled in the history of the region. The author does not eschew any words in depicting Ranjit Singh’s luxurious life-style and his love for many women. Tragically the illustrious empire collapsed shortly after his death in 1839 largely due to the infighting, conspiracies and sabotage of his successors and the colonizing powers.

Nasir Abbas Baloch
Nasir Abbas Baloch
2018 Dhahan Prize Finalist

Dr. Nasir Abbas Baloch is a respected professor of Punjabi and Urdu and is currently teaching at Minhaj University, Lahore. He is an outstanding Punjabi and Urdu poet, short story writer and a recognized playwright. He has written sixteen television drama serials along with nearly one hundred and fifty radio and stage plays. He has been awarded the Best Playwright Award in Punjabi by Pakistan Television. Among his many publications is Patanan Day Sad (Punjabi Poems,1977), Seetian Akhan Walay (Punjabi short stories, 1985), and Dasht-E-Raigaan (Urdu Poems, 1996).


Jhootha Sacha Koi Na is a book of Punjabi stories published in Shahmukhi script. Baloch is a master story writer as he cleverly exposes the contemporary socio-political system marked by corruption, decadence, stagnation and utter confusion. His only commitment in the stories is to the truth, no matter whom it hurts. These stories were crafted by the author after a very long gap of twenty years and they are a welcome addition to the rich short stories coming out of the cultural and literary heartland of Punjab.

Harpreet Sekha
Harpreet Sekha
2018 Dhahan Prize Finalist

Harpreet Sekha is a Canadian Punjabi author of fiction and non-fiction, who migrated to Canada with his parents in 1988. Sekha holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering and is currently employed as a Computer Numerical Control Machinist. His written work explores themes and experiences that resonate with South Asian Canadians, such as inequality, social justice, and migrant experience. His writings include the non-fiction Taxinaama (2011) and short story collections Bi Ji Muskra Paye (2006) and BaaranBoohey (2013). Baaran Boohey was translated and published into Hindi as well. He completed an authorized translation of Hugh Johnston’s Jewels of the Qila, into Punjabi which was published as Qiley dey Moti in 2017. A number of his stories are included in anthologies being used as text books in School Boards and Universities in India. At Kurukshetra University, Taxinaama has been included in the Punjabi M.A. program, and his work was the focus of many students’ M. Phil research. Harpreet’s stories have also been adapted for stage performance by many celebrated theatre directors in India.

Prism is a collection of short stories set in British Columbia. These stories are somewhat distinct from the works of his contemporaries in the choice of his subjects and skilfully precise treatment thereof. It is not easy to find comparable stories to those like Punjabi Suit, Penguin and Housewife in terms of the freshness of themes, the uniqueness of characters and their artistic portrayal. Sekha has established himself as a rising literary star of Punjabi fiction in Canada.

2018 Jury Members

Central Jury

Dr. Sadhu Singh (Canada) 
Dr. Surjit Hans (India)
Prof. Saeed Bhutta (Pakistan)

Script Jurors

Prof. Kuljit Shellie (India)
Prof. Jameel Paul (Pakistan)
Mr. Mushtaq Soofi (Pakistan)
Dr. Nabila Rehman (Pakistan)
Prof. Rajinderpal Singh Brar (India)
Dr. S.P. Singh (India)

Professor Raghbir Singh oversaw the adjudication and administration of juries for the 2018 Prize. Professor Raghbir ensured there was just and fair proceedings in relation to the adjudication.

The process was designed initially by Professor Anne Murphy, with advice and guidance from the Prize Advisory Committee,  who designed the process, adjudication and administration of the Prize in its initial form. Professor Murphy’s scholarly experience with Punjabi culture and literature, and with the adjudication and management of literary and book prizes (both in English and Punjabi), coupled with 10 years of experience working with museums and other non-profit organizations on related projects, helped devise a process that would foster engaged and ethical adjudication.