Dhahan Prize goes to Punjabi writer Pargat Singh Sartoj

Sartoj will take home $25,000 and for the first time, eight youths will receive $500 awards

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      Tonight, an award endowed by a Vancouver businessman and cosponsored by UBC's department of Asian studies will be presented at UBC's Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre.

      The Dhahan Prize includes a $25,000 award for the best Punjabi literature of the year.

      It was created by Bharj Dhahan, president of the Sandhurst Group of Companies, and his wife Rita.

      This year's grand prize winner is Pargat Singh Satoj for his novel, Khabar Ik Pind Di (News From A Village). He's won other literary awards in Punjab, India, including the Young Writer Award in 2012 for his previous novel, Teevian.

      Satoj has also written books of poetry and short stories. He juggles writing with teaching primary school teacher in Satoj, a village in Sangrur district.

      Novelist Pargat Singh Sartoj will take a $25,000 cheque home to Punjab in India after winning the Dhahan Prize for Khabr Ik Pind Di (News From A Village).

      Two finalists will each receive $5,000 prizes: Surrey novelist Nachhattar Singh Brar for Paper Marriage, and Pakistani writer Ali Anwar Ahmad for a short-story collection titled Tand Tand Maili Chaadar (Filthy Chador).

      This year for the first time, there will also be eight Dhahan Prize Youth Awards for Creative Writing in Punjabi.

      These prizes were open to all B.C. students in grades 11 and 12 who wrote short stories in Punjabi and then had them translated into India.

      Surrey resident Nachattar Singh Brar's novel, Paper Marriage, was a finalist in Gurmukhi.

      The youth winners will collect $500 prizes.

      The awards coincide with the City of Vancouver declaring October 30 to November 5 as Punjabi Literature Week.

      Dhahan is a member of the Vancouver police board, which is chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson.

      Pakistani writer Ali Anwar Ahmad was a finalist for his short-story collection, Tand Tand Maili Chaadar (Filthy Chador), which was published in Shahmukhi.

      In an interview with the Straight in 2015, Dhahan said that he was inspired to create these awards after seeing how the Scotiabank Giller Prize had become a signature event and helped inspire young Canadians to write fiction.

      Dhahan grew up in South Vancouver and studied creative writing at UBC. Over the years, he's supported several health and education projects in India, including helping 1,800 women graduate from nursing programs.

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