Another 60 Second Interview with Roop Dhillon
Q: You must have been excited to see your name on International Indian News this week?
A: Yes. I was taken aback…They approached me and just told me they were doing an article on my new book
Q: And what is the book called?
A: It is called O as in Ohhrhaa, first letter of the Painti
Q: So It is not in English?
A: No it is a Punjabi novel, my latest in fact.
Q: How long have you been writing in Punjabi?
A: Twelve years now. I originally planned on writing a novel in English about Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But research in to the subject and destiny took me to learning Punjabi. Once there I decided to take the plunge.
Q: Is that not a very high risk, considering your writing is going to be influenced by your English thinking mind? I mean the natural audience for you would be English readers not Punjabi ones. Forgive me, but I am assuming your Punjabi will never quite be like a natives.
A: Yes you are right, it will never have the correct flavour of a natives. But why not? American English is not the same as British; Creole French is not the same as Europe’s. They may laugh at our British accented Punjabi in Bollywood or Punjab, but it is the authentic accent of the westerner familiar with the language. And yes my natural audience should have been the English readers, and maybe that will be the case in the future, but right now I am determined to provide those brave few that bother to learn Punjabi in the west with a book that they can perhaps relate to.
Q: Seems to me you risk losing that natural audience by the fact you are alienating many who can’t read Punjabi and likewise you will alienate those in Punjab who don’t have a western mind set.
A: Perhaps. But I believe there are those in Punjab who want to read something new…many of the new generation only read English or Hindi because Punjab hasn’t caught up with Sci-Fi etc yet…I am just giving them a nudge. And in regards to England, if they are serious about their Sikh Identity, certainly their Punjabi one, get off your Butt and learn to read it. If an old man like me can…
Q: I recall from last time you had a hard time publishing in Punjab. Despite the TV coverage, I understand that the book is only available in the west. Is that not cutting off your natural audience?
A: Yes and no. There are Punjabis globally now. I would say Vancouver is the centre of the Vada Punjab, and it makes sense to be willing to pay for the same quality you would for a novel written in English in Punjabi. Yes I did have a hard time in Punjab. They are thieves. You are charged to have a book published, they never market it and it sits on the shelves. If they want a copy of my book in Punjab, the harsh reality is that they either will need to ask a relative in the west to buy it, or hope to god, someone who actually loves literature in Punjab will market it and pay for the publishing themselves for the Indian Market. If a product is good enough they will make money..I am happy just with a commission. In the meantime I admit the book is restricted only to those willing to pay for it directly through BLURB. It is only available online.
Q: So you are looking for an Indian publisher who will give you the same deal as a western one would? Is that not unlikely?
A: probably. As unlikely as justice for 1984. That’s what the book is actually about.
Q: I thought it was about a Weretiger?
A: Yes and no…there is a Sci Fi fantasy story and a love story. But it is about all issues facing Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims…in short Punjabis…and at the root is the treatment of women, caste and 1984 and lack of justice, for which we will never get justice unless it can be taken to the Hague…that’s another issue..
Q: Well I hope a publisher in India is willing to take the business risk and supply copies to people there soon. In the meantime those of us lucky enough to live in the west and buy it online and able to read Gurmukhi would like to know where one can obtain a copy.
A: Just go to the Blurb website and type “Roop Dhillon”. It is not that expensive when you consider an average top quality English book, and how much our youth spends on alcohol…do yourself a favour and forego a bottle of whisky and get a copy…The softback is cheaper than that..the hardback isn’t but it is a top quality edition. And if you can’t read Punjabi buy it as a gift for someone who can..
Q: I have seen some positive reviews about the book. It seems it has literary merit. That alone should be enough to get it published in India?
A: True..Again up to those who have the power to do so…Really would love to see it transliterated for Pakistani readers as well…It’s not in my hands
Q: Are you likely to continue to write in Punjabi?
A: Depends upon what happens with this book…It will either prove that a new generation is hungry for our language or not…if not I will cancel the project I have in mind and go back to English…That way I might even make a living..
Q: So you can’t make a living writing in Punjabi?
A: No one ever has…except in Music Industry it is the most neglected Indian language…
Q: Sad..Thanks for talking to us, I at least will order a copy.
( Link to TV Article , check mid point at 9 minutes 36 seconds
Link to Blurb
Please support this book, as if it does not sell it is not only sad for Roop, but we may lose the only opportunity to begin a western Punjabi literature suitable for our GCSE and A Levels)