White Blood by Nanak Singh

Author: Nanak Singh

Translator: Dilraj Singh Suri

Publisher: Hachette India

Language: English

Paperback: 272 pages

Genre: History, Religion, Legends

Buy at :  Amazon


White Blood is a significant novel by Nanak Singh, first published in 1932. Recognized for its literary and historical importance, this novel is a milestone in Punjabi literature, steering it towards realism. It intricately portrays Punjabi life, analyzing characters with depth and psychological insight. The plot is meticulously crafted, interwoven with dramatic situations and irony, offering a satirical view on societal wrongdoings. The novel is celebrated for its vivid scenes, such as the hardships of writers, the juggler Rodu's aspirations for Sundri, the illicit wine production by Pala Singh, and the dramatic transformation of Anwar's life. Through these elements, Nanak Singh paints a brilliant picture of early 20th-century Punjab. 

Review of the Book

White Blood is a masterpiece by Nanak Singh that provides a profound and unflinching look at 20th-century Punjab. Its realistic portrayal of societal issues, coupled with deep character studies and a well-crafted plot, makes it a compelling read. The novel's satirical tone effectively critiques the moral and social vices of the time. Each scene is vividly described, bringing the reader into the heart of Punjab's cultural and societal fabric. The layered narratives and rich prose enhance the book's depth, making it a pivotal work in Punjabi literature.

One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its intricate character development. Singh's ability to delve into the psychological aspects of his characters adds a layer of complexity that keeps the reader engaged. Characters like Gupteshwar, Rodu, Sundri, and Anwarjan are not just players in a story but representations of the broader societal dynamics at play. Their struggles and transformations are depicted with a realism that evokes empathy and reflection. Once a celebrated writer, Gupteshwar is found in a dire state at Amritsar Railway Station. His character arc delves into his struggles, societal observations, and the eventual impact of his unfinished manuscript on the reader, revealing the deep-rooted moral decay in Punjab. Rodu, a juggler striving for a better life for the innocent Sundri, Rodu's character represents the resilience and hope amidst the hardships faced by the lower strata of society. Sundri, an innocent child, Sundri's interactions with Rodu and Anwarjan and her calling Anwarjan "Maa Ji" highlight her purity and the complex social dynamics she navigates. Anwarjan's transformation is one of the most dramatic in the novel. From her dance performances to the changes she undergoes through her relationship with Sundri, Anwar's journey is a testament to personal growth and societal influences. Pala Singh - Involved in the preparation of country wine, Pala Singh's actions and the conflicts arising from them depict the rural struggles and the illegal undertakings of the time. Bachan Singh, all that is good in the society, the moral and upright, but that suffers due to it as well.

The book also excels in its depiction of various social issues, including corruption, casteism, and inequality. Singh's critique is not limited to overt social injustices but extends to the subtle hypocrisies and moral failings of individuals who position themselves as moral guardians. This nuanced approach allows the reader to see the pervasive nature of these issues and the ways they infiltrate everyday life.

Furthermore, Singh's use of dramatic irony and satire is masterful. The novel's ironic style not only entertains but also provokes thought, encouraging readers to question and reflect on the societal norms and behaviors of the time. Scenes like the skirmish between village farmers at a religious place or Anwarjan's dance performance are crafted with such brilliance that they leave a lasting impression. The fate of Sundri and Anwarjan's especially tugged at my heartstrings.

In conclusion, White Blood is more than just a novel; it is a mirror reflecting the socio-political landscape of early 20th-century Punjab. It stands as a testament to Nanak Singh's literary genius and his deep understanding of human nature and societal issues. The translation by Dilraj Singh Suri ensures that this important work reaches a wider audience, allowing more readers to appreciate its timeless relevance and literary beauty.

About the Author

Nanak Singh (1897-1971), known as the father of the Punjabi novel, was a prolific writer who penned over 40,000 pages in the Gurmukhi script. His works, marked by universal themes of love, friendship, and sacrifice, are distinguished by their realistic portrayal of societal issues and human nature. Notable among his works are "Pavittar Papi" and "Ik Miam Do Talwaran," which explore themes of unrequited love and sacrifice, while "Paap Di Khatti" reflects on greed and changing societal values. Singh's fearless critique of fundamentalism and societal evils is a hallmark of his storytelling. His works remain a critical part of Punjabi literature.

About the Translator

Dilraj Singh Suri, the grandson of Nanak Singh, is a technical writer and localization professional. Growing up in a family of writers and educators, Suri was deeply influenced by literature from an early age. His translation of "Chitta Lahu" into English as "White Blood" is a testament to his dedication to bringing Nanak Singh's epic novel to a broader audience. Suri holds a Master's degree in English and aims to highlight the brilliance of Nanak Singh's work to non-Punjabi readers worldwide.

This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program 


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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