Frontlist | Master storyteller Rupana gets Sahitya Akademi Award at 87

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The award comes for his latest collection of short stories ‘Aam-Khas’ that also won International Dhahan Prize for 2019
The phone has been ringing in constantly since Friday night after the news of the award, with greetings followed by the catch phrase ‘der aaye durust aaye’ (better late than never)!
But it is never too late for this legendary storyteller Gurdev Singh Rupana, who put his village of Rupana in Muktsar district of Punjab with pride on the literary map of Punjabi like never before way back in the 1960s. Bedridden following a spine operation, he says with his usual rye humour: “Well, if it had to come late, then the award amount should have come with interest added to the award amount!”
This Rupana boy penned his first short story in Class 5 and it was his fifth story ‘Hava’ (wind) which became a classic with a difference as it was the first heart-wrenching confession of what happened at during Partition on this side of the border in which the narrator passes a caravan of refugees trudging to the new land of Pakistan with the dead outnumbering the living. This was followed many years later by yet another classic of the great divide, ‘Sheesha’ (mirror) in which he tells the untold some 50 years later.
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After completing his Masters in Punjabi literature from Delhi University, he started his working career as a schoolteacher in the metropolis with very close literary ties with celebrated Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam, who was one of the first to acknowledge his talent.
He has authored some 70 stories and five novels and is working currently on the sixth titled ‘Murti’, which tells a woman’s tale. “I am often accused of having written less but those who say so forget that I am a writer not a printing press,” he says with his usual guffaw. The award winning collection tells stories of the marginalised: Dalits, immigrant labourers, slum dwellers with an extraordinary flourish. He adds: “I am often asked why I suffix the name of my village to my name and my reply is that where would I be without the soil I was born to in which I harvested my stories, never shying away from the truth.”

Source: hindustantimes.com

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