IN MEMORY: Punjab literary greats Dalip Kaur Tiwana and Jaswant Singh Kanwal

Punjab has just lost two great literary figures. Punjabi online platform KITAB TRINJAN covers their lives and times

By Kitab Trinjan | PUNJAB |

Punjab lost two great literary figures in Dalip Kaur Tiwana and Jaswant Singh Kanwal who died recently one day apart. Punjabi online platform Kitab Trinjan covers the life and times of the  Punjabi language proponents.


Dalip Kaur Tiwana – Photo courtesy of husband Prof Bhupinder Singh / Kitab Trinjan


(Rabbon, Ludhiana; 4 May 1935 – Chandigarh, 31 Jan 2020)

Novelist, Short Fictioner, Teacher

Dalip Kaur Tiwana, who has died aged 84, did her M.A. and Ph.D. in Punjabi literature from Panjab University. She was Professor of Punjabi in Punjabi University and its Life-Fellow and nominated Senator.

She wrote her first novel, Agni prikhya (The Ordeal of Fire), followed by – Vãt hamãri (Our Journey, 1970), Teeli da nishan (Mark of Nose-pin, 1971), Suraj te samundar (Sun and Ocean, 1972), Doosri Sita (Second Sita, 1975), Sarkandeya de desh (The Land of Reeds), Dhup, chhãn te rukh (The Sunlight Trees and Shadows, 1976), Lammi udãri (A Long Flight), and her latest novel Peele patian di dãstãn (The Tale of Yellow Leaves). Apart from these novels, Tiwana wrote an autobiography entitled Nange pairãn da safar (Travelling on bare feet).

Tiwana also published six collections of short fiction: Sadhana (Endeavour), Yatra (Pilgrimage), Kise di dhee (Someone’s daughter), Ik kuri (A Girl), Tera kamra mera kamra (Your room my room) and Malan (Gardener’s wife).

Many of Tiwana’s short stories and novels have been translated into Hindi and other Indian languages, and English. Such is her Fate (Punjabi University), Journey on bare feet (Orient Longman), Gone are the Rivers (Macmillan) are some of the English translations. The Tale of the Phoenix (Ajanta) translated by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh. Khushwant Singh, Jai Rattan, Danielle Gill from Paris and Parvesh Sharma are some the other translators of Tiwana’s works. Doordarshan also telecast a few serials based on her writings.

A few of her books are also published in the Farsi script in Lahore.

She played important roles in academic and literary bodies viz. the Sahitya Academy (Delhi), Punjab Arts Council (Chandigarh), Punjab Sahit Academy (Chandigarh), Punjabi Sahit Academy (Ludhiana), National Book Trust of India, Bhartiya Janapith, K.K. Birla Foundation, Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha in various capacities.

The characters in Tiwana’s novels and short-stories are the downtrodden and the innocent rural folk with suppressed desires and passions. Tragedy and irony mark the main elements of her fiction. Complex inner duality of the female psyche is the chief theme of Tiwana. Besides her achievement in fiction, Tiwana wrote two books on literary criticism too.

Her awards included:

  • Padma Shri in 2004 for Literature & Education
  • Sahitya Akademi Award in 1971 for novel Eho hamara jivana (This Our Life, 1969)
  • Saraswati Samman in 2001 for novel Katha Kaho Urvashi


Jaswant Singh Kanwal – Photo: Diwan Manna / Kitab Trinjan


27 June 1919 – 1 Feb 2020

Novelist, Short story writer, Polemicist

Jaswant Singh Kanwal, who has died aged 100, was a prolific writer. His sentimental novels usually have a rustic feel and depict the rural life of East Punjab from a romantic Jatt chauvinistic perspective. He used to have leftist leanings and many of his popular novels champion social and gender equality. Lately he became a supporter of the Khalistani movement. He was for forced expulsion of all UP and Bihari migratory labour from East Punjab.

His notable novel is Lahoo Di Lo (Dawn of the Blood) based on the Maoist Naxalite movement of the 1970s in East Punjab.

Despite his anti-establishment stance, Kanwal had accepted all sorts of awards and honours. He was awarded Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 1996. He received the Sahitya Academy award for his novel Taushali di Hanso in 1998.

The East Punjab government gave him twice the Punjabi Sahit Shiromani Award in 1990 and 2007.

He was conferred upon the degree of DLit (Honoris Causa) by Guru Nanak Dev University in 2008 for his contribution to Punjabi literature.

Kanwal visited Lahore several times during the two decades of the last century hosted by Sibtul Hassan Ziagham and Afzal Ahsan Randhawa.


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