In uncertain times like these, it is important to celebrate what is bringing us together, rather than what is keeping us at a distance. Literature is one of those fundamental mediums through which people from various parts of the world can share the same experiences without physically being together. Stories from the colourful, scented spice markets of Morocco to the lively and audible floating markets of Thailand allow us to simultaneously travel through time and space, teasing the senses and enlightening the mind.
The 2020 Dhahan Prize submissions allow us to focus on these positive community-strengthening experiences. We have received 44 submissions for the 2020 Dhahan Prize, out of which 35 are eligible. Proudly welcoming a greater diversity of voices to the global Punjabi literary landscape, a third of the submissions are authored by female writers. As a testament to how truly international Punjabi literature is, the submissions came from 7 different countries: Canada, Pakistan, Sweden, England, India, the USA and Australia. This geographic diversity surely has contributed to the thematic richness of the stories and a huge range of characters and their experiences.
During these days of uncertainty, reading novels and short stories can help us still our minds and imagine new ways of living. Great literature provides us with fresh understanding of others and the world around us, along with the means to connect with one another. Crises such as Covid-19 often become the source of new creative expressions in art, music and literature. Dhahan Prize hopes that creative writing is continuing to prosper during these times and perhaps that new writers are encouraged to try their hand at writing stories that they can one day also share with the world.
The Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi juries are actively evaluating the submitted works and a final selection of the winning books is expected in early August.
The 2020 Dhahan Prize ceremony will be held on Saturday November 7th in Vancouver. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony may need to be postponed.