Eminent Punjabi writer and novelist Gurdial Singh breathed his last in Bathinda after a brief spell of illness, his family said. He was 83. Singh contributed towards the promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture. One of his prominent works was ‘Marhi da Deeva’.
He was under treatment in a private hospital in Bathinda for the last about 10 days.
A resident of Jaitu town of Faridkot, Gurdial Singh was the only living Punjabi writer to win Jnanpith Award.
He was only the second writer from the state after Amrita Pritam to win the Jnanpith award.
Writer of many famous novels, Gurdial Singh got Sahitya Academy award for his novel ‘Marhi Da Diva’. A film based on the novel, which had a Dalit sharecropper as the protagonist, won the National Award for the Best Feature Film in the Punjabi category in 1989. His 1976 novel, Anhey Ghore Da Daan, was made into a feature film by Gurvinder Singh, which won four National Awards, the Golden Peacock Award, the Black Pearl Trophy and was also shortlisted as India’s entry into the Oscars.
Before he wrote his first novel ‘Marhi Da Diva’, Gurdial Singh was known as a short story writer. His novels are narratives of the oppressed, without any didacticism of revolution.
He wrote many short stories for children as well. He took up translation for the first time while he was still in F.A. This translation work was Maxim Gorky’s autobiography.
His novels were translated in several Indian languages and also in English.
He taught at the regional centre of Punjabi University for some years.
Earlier this year, Sahitya Akademi announced fellowship for him. The fellowship is the highest honour of the Akademi.
He was awarded Padma Shri in 1998, Jnanpith in 1999, Sahitya Akademi Award, Nanak Singh Novelist Award (1975), Soviet Nehru Award (1986), an award from Punjabi Sahitya Akademi, Bhasha Vibhag among others.
Several celebrities and politicians mourned his demise. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal conveyed his condolences and called him "a son of the soil”.
In a condolence message, the Chief Minister described Mr. Gurdial Singh as one of the greatest writers of the Punjabi Literature. Mr. Badal recalled the enormous contribution of Mr. Gurdial Singh towards the promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture, which would always be acknowledged by one and all. His master piece novel ‘Marhi da Deeva’ would ever remain his best creation for all times to come. The Chief Minister said that Mr. Gurdial Singh was one of the most celebrated Punjabi writers who had always focused on the economically and socially marginalized people in rural Punjab through his short stories and novels. He made every Punjabi proud when he was bestowed upon the prestigious ‘Jnanpith’ and ‘Padam Shree Award’ being the son of the soil.
The cremation will take place at Jaitu at 10 am on Wednesday.