HarperCollins Publishers is proud to announce Hymns in Blood by Nanak Singh, Translated by Navdeep Suri

NEW DELHI, April 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — “Nanak Singh’s deeply felt novel, written in the immediate aftermath of the Partition of 1947 carries the raw stamp of an intensely felt and lived tragedy which broke apart not only two countries but also hearts, relationships, friendships, homes and trust,” said Urvashi Butalia.

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“Suri’s translation of Singh’s stunning classic is a breath of fresh air. The world has never needed this illuminous novel more,” said Anjali Enjeti.

“Sensitive and rich, it embodies the spirit of undivided Punjab, and seventy-five years on, serves not only as historical narrative, but also a timely reminder of the consequences of manmade divisions,”said Aanchal Malhotra.

1947, Chakri. An idyllic village on the banks of the Soan near Rawalpindi, surrounded by stalks of golden wheat and festive songs. Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs eagerly await the end of winter and get together to prepare for Lohri. Amidst this joyous bustle, Baba Bhana, the erudite village elder, worries about the future of his foster daughter, Naseem, even as a tender love blossoms between young Naseem and Yusuf, the errant son of the blacksmith.

Life comes to a halt when news of a possible partition of India reaches the village. Amid a frenzy of communal violence, Baba Bhana and his family must reluctantly leave their beloved village. They embark on a long and dangerous journey, slowly coming to terms with the fact that their lives may be changing forever. Khoon de Sohile, first published in February 1948, and now translated for the first time into English, provides a timely reminder of the grief and trauma that a religious divide brings in its wake.

Navdeep Suri, says, “Translating this book gave me a rare insight into the texture of life in a part of rural Punjab that now lies on the other side, a glimpse into its sights and sounds, into its colours and contours. It also revealed the way my grandfather uses his characters and storyline to tell his readers that a commitment to humanity is sacred, while adherence to religious faith is a personal matter. The tide of communal violence that swept through Punjab in 1947 and the havoc wrought upon the hapless Hindu and Sikh communities of the Pothohar was real, but so was the raw courage of some of the Muslim protagonists while trying to save their neighbours. The unshakeable bond between Baba Bhana Shah and Chaudhry Fazal Karim is a deeply emotional balm on the wounds of Partition.”

Sohini Basak, Commissioning Editor, says, “Nanak Singh’s contribution to Indian literature is immense and we’re very pleased to present Hymns in Blood in Navdeep Suri’s superb translation. With an forgettable cast of characters and written in beautifully paced prose, this classic Punjabi novel from 1948 will resonate deeply with readers in 2022 and beyond, and also hopefully act as a cautionary tale. This is a story that will add to the richness of Partition literature, and a book that we at HarperCollins are proud to be publishing.”

About author: 

Nanak Singh (1897-1971) is widely regarded as the father of the Punjabi novel. With little formal education beyond the fourth grade, he wrote an astounding fifty-nine books, which included thirty-eight novels and an assortment of plays, short stories, poems, essays and even a set of translations. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1962 for Ik Mian Do Talwaraan. His novel Pavitra Paapi was made into a film in 1968, while Chitta Lahu was translated into the Russian by Natasha Tolstoy.

About translator: 

Navdeep Suri is a former diplomat who has served in India’s diplomatic missions in Washington DC and London. He was also India’s ambassador to Egypt and UAE, High Commissioner to Australia and Consul General in Johannesburg. Navdeep has been striving to preserve the literary legacy of his grandfather Nanak Singh and bring his works to a wider audience. He has translated into English the classic 1930s Punjabi novels Pavitra Paapi (The Watchmaker) and Adh Khidya Phul (A Life Incomplete) His translation of Nanak Singh’s lost poem Khooni Vaisakhi was published in 2019 and continues to be in the news and media mentions.

About HarperCollins Publishers India:

HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live! Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Harvard University Press, Gallup Press, Oneworld, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India is now the recipient of five Publisher of the Year Awards – In 2021 and 2015 at the Publishing Next Industry Awards, and in 2021, 2018 and 2016 at Tata Literature Live. HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers.

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